Monday, January 31, 2022
One of three brothers that play, coach Adrian Washington has embarked on developing the next generation of players that includes three of his own children.
Washington took a bit of an atypical path to his coaching career. After playing recreational as a youth and advancing to play at the premier and ODP levels, he turned down opportunities to play collegiately to attend the University of Notre Dame in an academic capacity.
“I had offers to play at some DI and DIII schools here on the West Coast. I ended up going to school at the University of Notre Dame.
But his passion of the game continued at one of the world’s most famous universities.
“Notre Dame had a pretty competitive intramural program while I was there. My senior year I helped my dorm, the mighty Fisher Hall, reach the intramural championship final, where we lost in a shootout.”
The education and experience at Notre Dame helped shape him, however, as a coach.
“One of the things made known to us as students at Notre Dame was how rigorous the workload was. It can be overwhelming, but eventually you learn to deal with the load and adapt to the pressure.
“For the boys and girls that play for me, one of the central tenets of my approach to coaching is hard work. Of all of the players that I have coached, at all skill levels, those that have had the most impact on the field, in my experience, have been those that never stop working. There will be times when your first touch might let you down or when you can’t seem to find that final pass. But if players are working hard they can make up for those brief shortcomings until they’ve found their feet again.
“Also, all players have lives outside of soccer. They have academic lives and eventually they have professional lives. If, through coaching, I can help, even in some small way, to instill the importance of hard work as central to the success they will have in all aspects of their lives, I consider that a win.”
Only a handful of years into being a coach, Washington truly sees it through a collaborative approach.
“My coaching career started back in 2015 – time flies, been about seven years for me. Started with a local club here and then came to the Sounders and am in my fourth year now.
“For me, it keeps you in touch with the game and it helps keep me young, dealing with the kids and working with them – helping them learn the game. It’s fun to see the growth and the development, and then it’s fun to be around a group of like-minded folks who are all about helping kids grow and learn inside the game, outside the game as people, as players. And here at the Sounders I really like the collaboration that we have as coaches amongst our teams.”
And much of that teamwork comes with coaches he either learned from or with those he played alongside as a youth.
“Youth soccer was so important to me growing up. Most of my friendships revolved around soccer. And today, a lot of my friends are people that I grew up playing soccer with. Many of my professional coaching colleagues are friends that I competed against or played with when I was young. It’s great to have the opportunity, today, to coach alongside coaching professionals that I used to compete against when we were young.
“Having played soccer for so many years, I think it’s only natural that eventually former players want to continue on to impart what they learned to young players. As a young adult I got the opportunity to coach club youth soccer with Tim Seely, and that experience did a lot to shape my outlook on what it means to be a coach. His level of passion for the game and his attention to the minute details of making good players great, inspired me.
“Tim worked very closely with my two younger brothers Avery and Austin Washington, both of whom played at the collegiate level. Austin eventually went on to play in MLS with the Chicago Fire. I am very proud of them both. But, to see, first hand, the impact that coaching can have on the lives of players that are willing to put in the work, was very compelling for me.”
As for his professional life, Washington’s degree has led to a career in risk management – a critical mindset that plays a role in game and team management as well.
“I help companies, define, understand, quantify and price risk. How can we understand and limit our exposure? It’s funny, because as I think about the way I set up my teams, my first order of business is always to figure out how to organize the team from a defensive standpoint – manage that risk.”
And with another generation of Washingtons fully ingulfed in the game with three of his four children playing, the young coach finds himself fully engaged in the game. Though, he and his wife Kelsie do manage to find a few opportunities for the occasional forays into camping, hiking, fishing and travel. Though a lot of the sight-seeing trips are woven into their soccer schedule.