Longtime Wellington resident Caitlin Waites is a teacher, an athlete, a student and a coach. While she excels in all four disciplines, her true talents may well be as a coach, especially in soccer.
On April 11, Waites coached the Wellington Landings Middle School girls soccer team to its second consecutive Palm Beach County middle school girls soccer title. The championship-clinching win was a 3-0 defeat of Don Estridge Middle School.
Like all successful coaches, Waites took very little credit for her role in the win.
“Both years, I have had an amazing team full of girls with heart and the want to win,” said Waites, who teaches language arts and physical education at Wellington Landings. “Every practice, every game, every team bonding experience allowed us to produce the season we had.”
For Waites, making the transition to being a coach has been a natural extension of her childhood, where she attended Glades Day School in Belle Glade and played volleyball, soccer and softball.
“Honestly, it’s just the love for sports,” Waites said. “I’ve been very active with athletics since the age of three. There was never a time growing up that I wasn’t involved with a sports team. After each sport in high school ended, I immediately started the next sport.”
While in high school, the end of the school year each spring didn’t mark the end of competitive play for Waites. Instead, it represented the beginning of another annual sports cycle.
“During my summers, I would train, mainly with my dad, or I would be attending camps and clinics at different colleges,” Waites said.
After enrolling at Ave Maria University, where she graduated with a degree in literature and a minor in education, she remained physically active. “When I was in college, I couldn’t stay away from it either,” said Waites, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree online. “I had the opportunity to play collegiate softball, but plans changed. I did play a lot of intramural sports in my off season from soccer and worked for the athletic department for two years, where I would work softball and baseball games doing stats for the players. During my season, I mainly worked the weight room. I also follow many professional sports as their seasons are taking place.”
One of Waites’ strengths as a coach is her ability to relate to each student-athlete on her team.
“As a coach, I would say my main strength is adapting when it comes to the kids,” Waites said. “Every sport is going to draw kids from all different backgrounds. I like to think I am intense when it comes to coaching, but in a positive way. I like pushing the kids to their best ability and making them realize their talent, especially when they don’t see it for themselves. That’s how I was always coached. Sometimes kids need to be boosted up because they have the talent but lack the confidence. So, you boost them up and build the confidence to match the level of ability. Some kids need to be humbled and reminded that no matter how good you are talent-wise, respect and teamwork are the keys to success. Becoming ‘un-coachable’ is an athlete’s Achilles heel. When an athlete feels there is nothing more to learn, that is usually where the drive and determination falls.”
Even though Waites’ soccer teams at Wellington Landings have won championship titles in 2022 and 2023, she is quick to remind her players that winning back-to-back titles in any sport at any level is not the norm.
“I also try to remind the kids that failure is part of sports,” said Waites, whose Wellington Landings team had an 11-1-1 record this past spring. “You can’t grow without learning to fail. If you don’t learn how to fall, how do you know when to pick yourself back up? I try to use losses as motivation and determination to play the next game.”
In addition to coaching girls soccer at Wellington Landings, she also coaches track in the spring and assists with volleyball in the fall.
“My love for sports, in general, has never died down, even after my collegiate career ended,” said Waites, who added that college softball is her favorite sport to watch. “I’ve always known I wanted to keep athletics in my life, and coaching was the best option for that.”
Waites plans to return next season as the head coach of the girls soccer team at Wellington Landings. “Yes, sir!” Waites said. “That is the plan.”