Jennifer Palin is a military spouse of Sergeant First Class Gordon Palin U.S. Army, mother of two children, business owner, and youth girls soccer coach.  She exhibits tremendous discipline and organization to effectively balance such a demanding schedule while maintaining positive impact in all facets of life.  Her example and personal story are inspiring to all of us who aspire to thrive at home, work and in the community.  Soldiers To Sidelines is proud to honor Coach Jennifer Palin as March 2024 Soldier Coach of the Month.

Jen learned of Soldiers To Sidelines through her brother in-law Nate Palin who serves as STS Director of Operations.  Jen was already coaching and leading a successful business and was intrigued after learning about the STS mission.  She completed the Soldiers To Sidelines inaugural Soccer Coaching Certification Seminar last June. The entrepreneurial demands of founding and running her coaching business Head Strong LLC are extensive.  Properly raising her two young children while her spouse is on active duty adds a much larger level of responsibility to the day.  On top of that, Jen volunteers as Community Coordinator for Healthy Kids Running Series Richmond Hill GA and

Head Coach for Richmond Hill Soccer Club U12 Girls. Read on to discover how Coach Palin rises to the challenge of investing in her family, business, and community.

Jennifer Palin with youth soccer team

STS: How has your military experience influenced you as a coach?

Coach Palin: Truly, as a military spouse you become independent in the process. You ‘keep on, keeping on’. We teach our minds and hearts to use that as motivation, to stay busy in hopes to make the time pass! All the while, nonstop thinking about our person being away. So, in a roundabout way I do not let the military life change my everyday life. With a move kids want to continue to stay in a routine as much as possible. I knew soccer was a big part of their lives. This was one of the first tasks upon arrival.

STS: How has Soldiers To Sidelines impacted your life?

Coach Palin: I took the STS Soccer Coach Certification. I was fired up and so excited to incorporate training to a new level at practice. My interaction with the girls has changed in a positive light. Fun vs. passionate is an approach I usually take. Skills are enhanced and teamwork is a must.

STS: Describe a coaching interaction with a player, or group of players, that has a special place in your heart?

Coach Palin: Most of my girls I have had the privilege to be with for two years; four seasons. The growth has been the best to see. The pivotal year was 4th-5th grade. My 5th graders that I had as 4th graders (last year) struggled to make passes, had a hard time communicating, could not remember plays, and would complain if practice was too long. This year, the amazement was fielding open passes, being accurate with one touch, having ball control and field awareness around them, and NOT wanting practice to end!!

STS: What are your aspirations in coaching?

Coach Palin: My aspiration would be to ‘keep the dream alive’. The WANT to play be strong enough to continue. Too many times the fun is gone, the next level isn’t what was expected, the comparison game takes over and self-confidence fumbles. (hand raised) This was me. I want them to have better.

STS: What was the most difficult challenge you have experienced in coaching and what have you learned from that experience?

Coach Palin: Parents. Girls. Egos. Playing time. This has been a large struggle more recently. I have a wide array of ages from 4th-6th on my U12 team. From this I have three elementary schools and a middle school. You have cliches, gossip and sass. I have this at home already so typically no sweat off my back but when parents are a part of the mix and saying what needs to be said this day in age; there becomes a divide. Players think they should only listen to their parents and that coach is wrong. It is a struggle to understand my parents’ point of view (even when I am one) and still have the point across that I am the coach. I have learned that most of the time the players have nothing to do with it. In hopes they come to practice with a clear mind and no comments in the back of their minds. Treat all players equally no matter the issue with the parent at hand. Remember they are there to play the game I love.

STS: Is there anything else you can share with us about your coaching story?

Coach Palin: Coaching is not for the faint of heart. It takes time, patience, dedication and heart. If you lose one the rest falls apart. Keep a level playing field…no pun intended ha.

Prioritize and have a schedule ON and OFF the field.

As a mom of two, Mil Spouse, and business owner, no time can go wasted.