Former University of Tennessee football player coaches Knoxville athletes

Jayden Barrett has never been conditioned to lose.

Winning soccer games was all the Californian knew until she is part of the University of Tennessee women’s team in 2009 – for better or for worse. That year, the team finished 8-9-3 overall and 4-5-2 in the SEC, and missed the NCAA tournament.

“When I was 18, I came to Tennessee and realized I needed more advice,” she told Knox News. “For me, being in an environment where everything felt like a loss was hard for me. It was hard to accept that a loss didn’t mean I was losing.”

Train the mental discipline of soccer at The Private Practice Athletics in Knoxville

Calvin Mattheis, Knoxville News Sentry

Scoring a goal is great, Barrett said, but even the most impressive players won’t be athletes forever. Achieving a life goal: that’s the right thing. And that’s what Barrett is helping young athletes accomplish in East Tennessee.

the Barrett case, Private Athletics Practice, focuses on teaching the mental aspects of football as much as the physical aspects, if not more. Since the company started in 2017, its clients have ranged from elementary school players learning the basic keys to high school seniors looking to take the next step in their playing career.

“I literally had no intention of starting a business,” she said. “They had every intention of doing it apparently – the kids. Because they came with me. All these players came as soon as I retired (from training).… I was like, ‘Who am I. I to deny you from this mentality that you have? ‘”

At 12, Barrett’s first practice on a new team was one of the most embarrassing moments of his life. She was way behind the other girls – happy just to get a foot on the ball – so her family asked a young coach for private lessons.

Jayden Barrett never walks into a workout with a coaching plan and often finds creative inspiration in the moment. This approach to training was inspired by Greg Baker, his childhood coach, who found learning moments in soccer everywhere, from foosball to the golf course.
Calvin Mattheis / News Sentinel

“I’m obsessed with everything we’ve done together because it was so amazing,” Barrett said. “It makes me a little emotional and something I define as happy nervousness because I just can’t believe how things end.… We have been training everywhere, every day, several times a day. That is. exactly what we did. “

Her creative approach to teaching the game helped her achieve the goal of becoming a varsity soccer player. This influenced her later in life when she became a coach.

But Barrett realized soon after arriving in Tennessee that sports were no longer a source of happiness and that she needed to take the time to focus on school. Her passion was put aside and she quit playing UT.

Barrett considered herself a winner, she said, “and it was hard to lose.”

“That’s why in my business I have something called W’s and L’s, but I don’t define them as wins and losses,” she said.

When Jayden Barrett (left) played competitive soccer growing up, much of the focus was on physical play.  Realizing that his mental and emotional needs weren't being met, Barrett now gives back to the game by first training young athletes as a person, including how to have real
When Jayden Barrett (left) played competitive soccer growing up, much of the focus was on physical play. Realizing that his mental and emotional needs weren’t being met, Barrett is now giving back to the game by first training young athletes as a person, including how to have true “self-belief.”
Calvin Mattheis / News Sentinel

Instead, they represent “what worked” and “lessons learned”.

Thanks to Barrett, the lessons imparted to his players are invaluable. And, in some cases, those lessons click in the most unlikely places.

Barrett’s father is Cuban and his mother African American, but they never taught him to think in terms of labels. Even “Jayden” was chosen by her parents as a neutral name, she said.

“I still believe that I, Jayden, transcend any limitations or restrictions that a label may apply,” she said.

Her mother would always tell her, “That’s not what they call you, that’s what you answer.” It is a state of mind that she applies to her business and that she transmits to her students.

Donte Davis first met Barrett when coaching daughter Madison, now 11, as part of Alliance FC club team in 2017. It was Madison’s first year playing football at a competitive level.

“Quite honestly, she got the best of her,” Davis said. “When she started her own (business)… it just changed the way my daughter approached the game. It was less about just being part of the team, but more about trying to contribute at a higher level. ”

Madison wasn’t the only player to follow Barrett when she left coaching the club. Many players sought private tutoring and a company began to form as the word spread.

Madison Davis (far right) isn't just learning to play thanks to Barrett;  she's learning to be a better teammate, her father said.
Madison Davis (far right) isn’t just learning to play thanks to Barrett; she’s learning to be a better teammate, her father said.
Calvin Mattheis / News Sentinel

In four months, this affair was official. And in less than six months, she opened a training facility in a basement defined by its tall columns and rugged terrain.

It might not seem like the perfect setup for football, but it was perfect for a manager who likes to get creative. Each exercise had to be technical, Barrett said, and the unique space made the exercises even more engaging. It was his playground.

“I never have a training plan. I don’t ride like that,” Barrett said. “Every day is different.… Sport is still my vessel, but it just allows me to have this platform to talk to them and make them listen to someone they wouldn’t usually listen to.”

Davis recalled the moment Barrett asked Madison to keep her foot on a soccer ball for an entire week, even when she was sitting down to do her homework. Madison went from 50 jugglers to 1,000 in just a month.

“When you define that champion mentality, that’s what transcends the performance of an athlete,” said Davis.

But the lessons Barrett teaches players between the whistles are just as important to her, whether it’s motivating them in the classroom or inspiring them to come out of their shell.

Madison now reunites her teammates before games for a moment of silence and prayer, Davis said. She even got into art after Barrett let players design the installation, and recently painted a canvas for a teammate recovering from a concussion.

“I think (Barrett) is coaching the whole player,” Davis said. “My daughter is a great player because of her.”

Barrett eventually returned to school to become a nurse, which in part inspired the name The Private Practice Athletics. Players come to Barrett at different skill levels, and she “prescribes” the training they need.

Jayden Barrett never considered herself a coach, but now finds happiness watching her players play on the pitch.
Jayden Barrett never considered herself a coach, but now finds happiness watching her players play on the pitch.
Calvin Mattheis / News Sentinel

Barrett no longer works in the basement and is looking to open a training center on land she recently bought for a house. In the meantime, she trains students at Nicholas Ball Park.

Players can also receive individual attention and must complete home training. Barrett is in the field about five days a week coaching players from across the Knoxville area.

“We don’t care who you play for, why you play,” she said. “We just care about you playing. And I love that we have them from different clubs because it makes them realize that the umbrella is the game. And that’s all that matters.”

Barrett never wanted to be a coach. She only saw herself in the game. But as The Private Practice Athletics continues to grow, so does its impact on the sport.

When one of his players scores in a game, Barrett feels all the emotions that come with putting a ball in the net. And when they reach a life goal, she feels so much more.

“I just can’t believe who they have become, and I’m so excited to see who they will be,” she said. “I cheer them on like they’re a professional football player because they make me feel that way.”

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