Scott, thank you so much for taking the time to allow us to conduct this interview – to start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am 33 years only, born and raised in the Lower Mainland (Surrey). I am married to a school teacher with a young son. I graduated from BCIT where a I studied Broadcast Journalism then attended four years at SFU in General Studies primarily focused on History, English and Kinesiology. I have been working as a coach for 18 years.
Can you expand a bit on your playing and coaching background?
I was a multi-sport athlete as a youth; soccer and baseball primarily, with a lot of other sports mixed in. I played at varying levels of competition depending on the sport but nothing that would see my athletic 'career' move into college. I was able to attend many provincial championships as a player (baseball, wrestling, high-school track and field) and the BC Summer Games. Baseball also afforded me the opportunity to attend multiple Western Canadian Championships as a player. A soccer injury at eighteen years old saw me tear my ACL; full reconstructive surgery. I returned to soccer (VMSL) and baseball but at 23 I tore my ACL again (indoor soccer), had it reconstructed again and quit playing. I have returned to recreational soccer and slo-pitch.
I have been coaching since I was fifteen years old. It started as a last minute stand-in 'coach' for a Surrey Parks and Recreation Parent-Tot Class. That turned into a part-time job for me in high-school and over several years I expanded to coach: Basketball, Soccer, multi-sport classes as well as developing a Floor-Hockey and Wrestling programs for the City. While attending post-secondary I began running my own multi-sport summer camps for kids. In 2004 I volunteered to coach a team with Guildford Athletic Club and was subsequently noticed by the Technical Director at the time, Jeff Clarke. I began volunteering in the GAC Club Academy which progressed to a few paid staff hours working in the academy. Over several years my role expanded continuously working under Jeff as I learned the role of a Technical Director and also continued to progress developing as a team Head Coach. I worked through my CSA Licences and now retain my CSA 'B' National (May 2013).
Here is summary of the teams I coached:
- BC Summer Games Team - Fraser Valley ' 94 Boys - Champions 2006
- BC Summer Games Team - Fraser Valley '96 Boys - Champions 2008
- Guildford Athletic Club '94 Boys (Provincial Finalists 2008)
- Guildford Athletic Club '97 Girls (Provincial Champions 2010)
- Surrey United '97 BCSPL Boys (Provincial Champions 2012 & 2013 and National Champions 2013)
- Surrey United '01 BCSPL Boys (Provincial Champions 2014 & 2015, National Championships Oct. 2015)
There was no defining moment, it was more that I came to a realization if I worked hard and continued to improve as a coach there was a living to be made working as coach. I always knew I wanted to teach in some capacity and I have always loved and continued to enjoy working with teams and people, whether its coaches, players or as a member of a team. A job that combines teaching, working with people and sport is just ideal.
With a recent shift (last 5 – 10 years) to specific soccer training, our youth players’ time and needed commitment levels have never been higher. With your experience growing up, how important do you think it is for young players to play other sports? Looking back, what did baseball, if anything, help you as a young soccer player?
I think it is incredibly important for all kids, regardless of level, to play multiple sports in their pre-teen years, U12 and younger for soccer. The technical and tactical cross-training benefits and the muscular and athletic development benefits are positive for any athlete. Exposure to multiple sports, coaches and team environments are influences that are crucial for children to learn what they enjoy out of sport and will encourage lifelong participation.
Baseball taught me that I was looking for different competitive outlets in the different sports I participated in. I played on a very good team that won a lot, got to travel a lot and generally had success. I was a good enough player to play on the team but certainly wasn't 'starter' or 'key player'; I was ok with that because I liked the more competitive practices and games; I liked that my teammates didn't make as many mistakes. In soccer, I just wanted to play, I didn't care if I was better or worse than my teammates, I just wanted to play as much as possible.
Who was / is your biggest influence?
Working at Guildford, Jeff Clarke has certainly been the biggest influence on my development. He was the first the introduce the idea of coaching as a career and gave me the opportunity to pursue it. I learned what it is to be a Technical Director and how to lead as a Head Coach.
There seems to be a bit of a misconception on what a Technical Director actually does – can you shed some light on what your typical day is like when you have your TD hat on?
The day is broken into two parts Daytime and Evening
Most days throughout the year involve several hours on the phone or e-mail with any combination of the following: Volunteer Club Coaches, Staff Coaches, Executives, Parents (club members), other TD's, BC Soccer, Kit suppliers etc. This communication ranges from scheduling of practices and games, scheduling of staff with teams, player evaluation discussion, conflict resolution, discipline, team tactics, fundraising, technical questions and discussion, ordering kit or equipment, creating player/coach/referee development opportunities, player movement between teams or divisions etc. etc. There are some other significant administrative tasks that take place year round as well, budgeting programs and managing staff, developing curriculum and programs for the Club, scheduling.
Evenings are spent having meetings that cannot occur daytime, running programs/on-field coaching (ie. academies or team sessions), supervising staff, engaging with teams and coaches during their sessions.
Different times of the year also significant swells in work load. March - April - May is incredibly busy with Evaluations and Spring program. Mid-August - November is also a very busy time with Fall/Winter startup, most club programming is running and game evaluation is at its peak. These periods will often involve working seven days per week.
Gamedays! The most exciting days of the week. I hope to get out and see as many games as possible.
In your experience, what are the biggest challenges Technical Directors face today?
Parent and Coach education. We have a developing soccer culture in Canada and we need to foster its growth in the right way.
Couldn’t agree more! What are your thoughts on the LTDP and what type of support are you getting from the governing bodies (both provincially and nationally)? Can the governing bodies improve in this area?
I strongly support LTPD and BC Soccer has been much improved in communicating with clubs and offering support.
Where we have to improve is we need to make it easier for coaches to attend coaching courses. Many clubs are not big enough to host a coaching course and when they are able to host, coaches struggle with, 'oh that weekend doesn't work for me'. I'd like to see BC Soccer take the lead and offer multiple courses on multiple evenings all over the region. This would allow our coaches to attend on their schedule.
It appears that we are identifying players at younger ages nowadays but what about those that develop at a later stage – late teens – are they missing out?
Late developing players may miss out on some more advanced coaching at a younger age but it is definitely not because we are identifying players at younger ages. The age at which we have the ability to begin to make a distinction in one players' ability over another is not the issue, its that, generally, development teams almost always have a skilled or experienced volunteer coach and the Community or House teams sometimes have an entry level coach.
Kids are going to continue to grow and mature at different rates and those that show an ability at a young age should not be held back because others have not matured in the same way. The development system is much more fluid now, such that anytime a player is identified as 'out of place' we will make effort to support their development or progression to the next level of play, even if that means promotion out of our club to a higher level.
We can have all the technically gifted young athletes in the world but if they don’t have situational awareness or the willingness to face adversity head on, have we missed the boat with our players?
As a general comment of course we would like to be producing players that are technically gifted, have great situational awareness and face adversity with courage but in Canada at the moment, we have not been producing much of anything for the world stage. We haven't missed the boat, we're just setting sail and the environment is changing. The players I see at U13 have a far greater and more polished foundation of fundamental skills than the kids coming through even five years ago. Young academy players (U8s and U9s) are being introduced to simple on-field decisions that challenge them to apply different techniques depending on the outcome of their decision. For the kids its a game but they are learning. Unfortunately, these players are a decade away but progress is there.
What about coaches? Are there enough opportunities in Canada to become a professional coach?
No. To my knowledge, no post secondary offers any program in Coaching or Sports Management, the development of future staff coaches and Technical Directors is left to recruiting from abroad or learning on the job under the TD's currently in place.
Fantasy moment: You are in charge of overseeing player development throughout the country and money is no object – what is the one thing you would do/change to improve the system in place now?
Coach Development Centres in every major urban centre - Training Facilities, offices, conference rooms etc. could/should be the governing body's home base as well. Their mandate is to research and develop a standardized yet evolving curriculum and to train coaches of all levels. This should be a hub of innovation and an avenue to identify our best and brightest young coaches for further development.