Joe’s Soccer Summer in the US: “You’ll find yourself saying I love my job!”

Each summer USIT hires hundreds of Irish football fanatics, looking for a dream summer in the US surrounded by the beautiful game. @joemacruairi267 spent his summer touring through Denver, Wyoming, Idaho and New Mexico before hitting Las Vegas for McGregor/Mayweather. We’re not jealous in the slightest….

“I only applied for the programme that morning…”

The recruitment day seems like a lifetime ago but maybe that’s just because I’ve done so much in that time. I had only just applied for program that morning but I found myself sat in a room full of people who looked like they knew what they were about. League of Ireland training kits were a dead giveaway that these guys are the real deal.

I was nervous and 100% unprepared but you don’t have to be a Pro Soccer Coach or player, it’s more about your personality.

Can you work with others, can you work with kids, have you a love for the game? Tick these boxes and you will get a contract!

The interview part of the process was more of a quick chat. The guys want to get to know you. Can they be confident to send you over to the States to represent your country, your town, your family and yourself.

From Warwick to Denver

I selected my dates to travel later to be offered a contract in the Denver Region. I didn’t really know anything about Denver. I had to google it. It looked like a really nice city but the word ‘region’ left a question mark over the situation.

Following this, I had to play the waiting game. Firstly for the training weekend in Warwick University, UK and secondly for D-Day itself(Denver Day).

The training weekend was excellent for a number of reasons. I got to spend time with the people I would spend my summer with, I had a good laugh and had a few drinks but most importantly I found out the answer to all of my questions, including the one regarding the word ‘region’.

We learned all about the host families, the cars, the region, the weather, the food, the kids…etc in the mornings and in the evenings we learned how to coach. This is the job and the focal point of the summer. It’s extremely fun and you’ll find yourself saying “I love my job”.

I left Warwick in really good spirits because I knew I had made the right decision and I knew I was working with the right people.

D-Day arrived and I was off to London with a connecting flight to Denver. This was all organised by USIT and it couldn’t have been made easier. I had met some guys at the airport that I knew were going to Denver. When we touched down in Denver we were all collected by one of the trainers and brought to the hotel. The trainers are more experienced coaches that will help you out big time. They are usually also the camp directors but I had a nice surprise ahead of me as I found out the next day I would be traveling to Wyoming with one other coach and I would be camp director!

The way each week is scheduled is the same. Sunday you meet the host family and check out the pitches. Monday to Thursday you coach 9:00-12:00 and you do golden goal 13:00-15:00. The odd week you may have to do an evening session but that is rare. Thursday you also find out where you are going the following week.

Friday is the final day of camp and there’s no golden goal. Usually you organise a water fight to wrap up the week and of course, present the World Cup trophy to the winners.

A New Family Every Week

Saturday is time to spend with the most important people of your summer, your host family. All of the families I stayed with were so kind and generous. They took huge pleasure in looking after us and made us feel at home from the first minute to the last. I am still in contact with all of the families and I have Skyped some of them since I’ve been home.

The first week in Wyoming was so good that I was actually worried about what was to come. The kids, the location and the host family were all 10/10.

I was soon put at ease as the next week in Boulder was  my favourite of the summer. Boulder is a cool little town at the base of 14,000m Rocky Mountains. I spent some of my spare time that week driving into the mountains and exploring. One of the days I found a trail at 10,000m altitude and decided to go for a jog. I dare you to try it. The altitude is a natural born killer. By the way it doesn’t get much better at 6,000m.

The next two weeks were spend in Wyoming and Utah. Jackson WY and Salt Lake UT are beautiful and again the host families were amazing. We went white water rafting, jet skiing and even cliff diving( I’m afraid of heights). All in all those first four weeks made me feel extremely comfortable, confident and excited about the rest of my summer.

Celebrating the 4th of July in San Diego

This led to the 4th of July week. This is a free week which you are able to use to rental car. A group of us traveled to San Diego which  was a day drive away. During that week we went to the famous mission beach, San Diego zoo and we spend the 4th watching the fireworks by the harbour. Americans know how to celebrate.

After San Diego I was completely refreshed and ready to go again. I spent four amazing weeks in four different towns in New Mexico and the final week was in a beautiful town called Littleton which is 30 minutes south of Denver.

I could talk all day about each of the host families and how grateful I am to have met them. The worst part of every week was saying goodbye to them.

That’s why I was so happy I got the chance to go back and visit my family in Boulder after my final week. The kids didn’t know I was coming and they definitely were happy to see me. They had just spent two weeks in Africa and they couldn’t wait to show me all the photos of the different animals.

Coaching Done – Time for LA & Vegas!

The bonus at the end of such a spectacular summer is the free time to travel at the end. I had organised to travel to LA and fly home from there two weeks later. A certain fight between the best boxer of all time and a young lad from Crumlin changed my plans slightly.

Ten days in LA followed by four days in Las Vegas.

LA is a crazy city. I loved every minute of it. The people, the sights, and the beaches are all one of a kind. It seemed like I was the only person who wasn’t involved in TV in LA, however, I did bag myself a seat on the Dr.Phil show randomly enough! LA gave me the chance to see the other side of America. It’s a surreal place.

Vegas baby. The town was buzzing with the upcoming fight. I had organised to meet some coaches at the T-Mobile for the weigh-in. Ireland well and truly took over that day. I met Ariel Helwani host of the MMA hour and Mick Konstatin they guy who wrote the Conor McGregor song. The weigh-in was electric. We gave it everything to back our man. He was going toe to toe with the pound for pound best and we let Mayweather know that this is different. His kids were taking videos of us chanting and singing. Ariel even joined in!

Unfortunately, I hadn’t secured myself a ticket so the day of the fight I headed to the T-Mobile Arena early to see had they any left. I was pretty sure that they were expensive but I decided to queue anyway to see what the chances were. As I entered the back of the queue I spotted a guy resembled the man behind the man Coach John Kavanagh. As he turned I could see his face clearly and at this point, I knew it was him. He looked nervous and he looked like he had taken a slashing left from a world champ MMA fighter.

I quickly said to him “who gave you that cut”. He smiled and said “he did”.

The fight went well enough given the circumstances and our guy did his country proud once again.

It really was an unforgettable end to an unforgettable summer!

Interested in making your own Soccer Camp USA memories in 2018? No coaching experience of badges are required and anyone aged 18-30 is eligible to apply. 90% of Assessment Day participants get hired. Sign up to any of our upcoming sessions in Dublin, Limerick, Sligo and Carlow.