Gary spent the summer of 2014 travelling the length and breadth of California coaching soccer to kids and young adults as part of an international coaching programme. Here, he shares his experience with us!After recently graduating from Maynooth University I decided to look back on my favourite moments of my college years and without a doubt it was the opportunity to coach in the US that was the ultimate highlight!
Soccer has always been a part of my life from as early as I can remember and when I had the chance to coach during summer 2014, it was too good an opportunity to turn down. California was my destination and the memories that followed were incredible.
Coaching almost every day for 6 weeks from as far north as Ventura and down south to San Diego; There was little or no motivation needed to wake me at 7.30am each and every morning to get me onto the soccer pitch as sports is my passion. The chance to improve and learn new coaching methods to help me to become the next “Special One” while also soaking up the sunny weather was a dream come true.
When I first arrived at LAX Airport, I met the other Irish coaches and we headed for our training camp up high in the mountains of Big Bear which was a fantastic chance to get settled and adjust to my new surroundings as well as get to know everyone I was going to be working with. Throughout the training week I acquired some seriously fun and interesting drills which I still use today when I take a coaching session. I discovered different drills to use with different age groups (5-14) so that I never ran out of ideas.
I was selected as a Camp Co-ordinator which meant that I had the added responsibility of making sure the camps ran smoothly each day and dealing and solving the little problems we encountered. I would set out fun drills and games that were designed for a specific skill (i.e. – passing, shooting, etc.) so every day was a unique day in the life of a soccer coach in California. Every Friday was a “Family Fun Friday” which the coaches and I would encourage the parents, family and friends to join in the games and have lunch all together. This added the uniqueness to the coaching experience in the USA. I can truly say I have grown as a coach and as a person over that summer.
Coaching in the USA had a lot more to it than just setting out cones every day. The opportunity to live with a different host family each week was as equally as enjoyable as hiking up to the Hollywood sign in L.A. Each family had their own characteristics, traditions and interests as well as having a huge interest in soccer. One of the families kindly invited me to the StubHub Center, the home of the L.A Galaxy with some V.I.P treatment throughout the 90 minutes of the game. As part of the golden ticket I had the honour of meeting and hanging out with some of the Galaxy stars in the player’s lounge. The opportunity of travelling to different parts of southern California was one of the most appealing aspects of coaching at soccer camps. Huntington Beach, Newport, Oceanside are to name a few of the different locations I found myself based. Each location had it’s own tourist attractions and I made sure I ticked them all off the list.
Reflecting back on summer 2014, it was easily the best time of my life from a coaching aspect and on a personal level. I made some fantastic friendships with other coaches and families of the kids I coached along with the host families I stayed with. I can now say my love and passion for soccer has blossomed even more and I officially have the travel bug!
If you have a passion for soccer and are interested in spending summer 2016 in America teaching kids and young adults, check out our Soccer Coaching USA programme website here for all of the information you need to get started! We’re holding Coaching Assessment Days in the following locations:
Monday, 16th November in UL (12-3pm)
Tuesday 17th November in UCC (12-3pm)
Wednesday 18th November in Dublin (12-3pm)
Register to attend here.