For me, it was during the 1994 World Cup that was hosted in the United States when I realized I loved soccer, but I didn’t just love playing it, I loved studying it. At the time, I was still playing on the field and rotating in goal between two other goalkeepers. For the field, I relied on my coaching and my technique to get me by. But when it came to goalkeeping, I didn’t know much about the position at all. So I ended up getting three books on the subject and watching Tony Meola’s performance against Columbia in the 94’ world cup about 50 times. Each time I watched, I took new notes. From positioning, to technique on saves, I was self taught. This was before each club had goalkeeper trainers so I was on my own in terms of learning the position. Although I loved studying the game, I didn’t know at that age that I wanted to coach yet.
It wasn’t until I got a red card when I was fifteen or sixteen from a rough play in the box that I realized I wanted to coach. During the game that I was suspended from, I started directing some of the players and coaching from the sidelines, what I said was probably completely wrong. I was told after the fact, that my coach went to the parents section and said “I’m just going to sit down and let Jason coach.” It was later that night when I realized that I was going to be a coach someday.
There are usually three reasons of getting into coaching: The first reason is that many coaches fall back on coaching because they have realized that their playing career is coming to an end, the second are those that are roped into it because their kids play, and the third are the players that are still playing but know they want to get into coaching. I was the latter. Towards the end of playing in college, I was getting burnt out, especially of the position of goalkeeper. During my freshman year of college I went back to my old high school and helped out with the Girls Soccer Program, and I fell in love with the game all over again. To a fault, I almost couldn’t wait for my competitive playing career to come to an end so I can start coaching full time.
When I started out coaching, I chased every opportunity. I never said no to a coaching opportunity. I was chasing the game. I was also spreading myself way to thin. The benefit of spreading yourself too thin while coaching is you get to realize which level you want to coach at and what doesn’t interest you as much. As a coach in my first few years I thought I wanted to coach for a high school state championship and one day get into college coaching.
Thinking back on it now, I wouldn’t change a single thing about my professional coaching career. I truly believe that if I didn’t chase the game from those early coaching days, I wouldn’t have developed the self awareness that I now have of what interests me when it comes to player development, and what I have lost interest in. I have coached at every level the USA has to offer, from U6 youth academy to NWSL Professional Players. It was truly the best red card I was ever given.