By David Caplan
I’m often asked, “why do I coach”? It’s a complex answer as there are many reasons why I’m passionate about coaching. I love coaching because I love soccer, but I also want to give back to my community and I enjoy teaching others. I came to soccer as a sport late in life. I was a hockey kid growing up, I never played, but I watched all the time. I grew up in Edmonton during the dynasty, so how could I not? My heroes were Wayne, Mark, Jari, Glenn and the rest of the gang. I watched the Oilers win 5 Stanley Cups in 7 years. The whole town buzzed about the success of that team. As a child, my experience with soccer was negative. I participated in organized soccer only once in my youth and absolutely hated it. None of my friends played and I didn’t like the coach as he made me play goalkeeper. All I wanted to do was play hockey and I begged my mother to pull me from the program.
I watched hockey for years, cheering for the Leaf’s, Oilers and Flames. As a teenager, you couldn’t pay me to watch soccer. Soccer was “boring” and the players were “weaklings”. It wasn’t until as a young professional starting my career that I found a love for soccer. I met a co-worker, named Dave Simpson, who loved Manchester United, probably the biggest club in Europe at this time. He was passionate about the game and begged me to watch and then join him in a league. After months of wearing me down I caved, joined the soccer league, and started supporting Arsenal, the biggest club in London, England. Dave Simpson and his love of soccer changed my life trajectory forever. I learned how the game worked, now understanding it, I found watching soccer to be thrilling. It also helped that Arsenal became “The Invincibles”, something no other professional team in any major sport at the highest level has achieved. I began to learn to play, but the league didn’t have coaches for adult players. So I learned by watching my new heroes, Henry, Bergkamp, Pirès, Lehmann, their passion and desire to win was unbelievable. Arsenal was coached by Arsene Wenger who at the time was a tactical genius. His style of attacking football is still part of my team philosophy today. Arsenal went 49 games unbeaten and when they lost their 50th game to their bitter rivals Manchester United, I shared in their pain and suffering. It was official, I was addicted to soccer.
When I moved to Muskoka, I wanted to continue to play soccer. I started coaching Timbit soccer roughly 20 years ago. My eldest son was about to turn three and was going to play in the Huntsville Soccer Club’s Timbit house league program. I knew I wanted to be a part of his journey with soccer, and I wanted to be prepared. So, I volunteered to take the courses and coach a team the year before so I would know how to do it. Over the years, I’ve coached many kids and adults. I started a Women’s Introductory program for the Huntsville Soccer Club where I taught women the skills and knowledge about the game so they could enjoy it with their families. Passing on the love of the game is so important to me.
At the same time, I was developing as a coach, I also volunteered with the Huntsville Soccer Club for many years. Over the 15+ years I was on the Club’s Executive Board, I held every position from Adult Coordinator to President. Creating programs and giving back to the community who’ve given so much to me over the years is incredibly rewarding. Eventually I moved on from the Club, but I haven’t left the game I love so much. I’m currently the Vice-President and Treasurer for the Huronia District Soccer Association, the governing district for our area and part of Ontario Soccer. My efforts in soccer have always been to grow the game with a common-sense approach.
As a coach you really get to know the players and they give you the opportunity to share your experience, knowledge and love of the game. You understand their motivations, what makes them tick, and what success means to them. Whether it be a new trick, scoring a goal, or an unbelievable pass, these moments take years of hard work and dedication. I coach because I love it when a player achieves their goals. You need to put your ego aside, it’s not about what you want for the team or player, it’s about what they want. Coaching is about helping players along their journey and a good coach revel in these moments of growth and success. It’s about their glory, not yours.
So, if you haven’t considered coaching, I suggest you try. The Power of Giving Back is more than just rewarding.