Monday, January 24, 2022
As a youth player he reached thrilling heights scoring in Stoke’s Stadium, but injury led to an early career on the sideline for coach Marc Mason, who now also has his sights set on a new kind of height.
“I started at Everton Academy and played for a few local teams in the area, Chester City and Northwich Victoria.
“As an Englishman, football was culture, life and all that my friends and I wanted to play growing up. I was fortunate enough to play with many teams as a youngster, and recruited into an academy system when I was young where I learned from exceptional coaches in an environment that was competitive and player-centered for our growth. I was later able to develop my career in this environment through UEFA B license and FA Youth Modules, turning that education and experience into coaching the future players of Everton FC as a U6-U8 Phase Coach, alongside some incredible people all working together to develop the best talent in our system.”
But before that transition, Mason enjoyed a vibrant playing experience in the heart of one of the world’s premier soccer systems.
“From a playing point of view, a very memorable experience was when I played at Stoke’s Stadium, with coaches in academy systems across the UK. I managed to net a goal at both ends of the pitch. It was all about the assist’s, but still – being in the dressing room with the lads, walking out to a stadium of friends, family and supporters was an unreal experience and I am very fortunate to have had this opportunity.”
And as many experience, injury would bring things to a halt for him.
“The injuries that really ended me playing competitively were those of a torn peroneal tendon on the right foot, a rolled left ankle that is still slightly swollen to this day, patellar damage on the left knee and a few concussions along the way. The best advice I can give to players that have injuries such as these in their careers – don’t rush anything and do your physio. Take care of yourself, rest and recover.”
His on-field ambition, though, gave way to a desire to remain in the game via the sideline.
“I was able to transition through injury into coaching, especially the under-5 to under-8 phase coaching that Everton Academy are very proud of.
“I think this is my 13th season of coaching boys of all age groups, from the younger boys in England to the older boys throughout the United States and the Spokane Sounders.
“Lessons that I have taken from my time in the UK are that work-ethic, grit and determination are global indicators of success and progress. Players may be technically good already, though what makes them great is the extra work that they put in, the determination not to give up and the willingness to listen and learn from those around us. I try to share that creativity in the game where a player may ‘fail’ is not really a failure at all, though an opportunity to analyze and learn from it to improve in the next trial. I aim to develop players as an all-round sportsperson where teamwork, respect and attitude is imperative to not only success on the field, but as a great member of society also.
“Some memorable experiences I have had is that I have been very lucky to visit other academy systems around the UK when our boys would play teams such as Chelsea, Man City and our rivals Liverpool. These experiences were great for the boys’ development, but also great to identify a variety of philosophies and structures that were different to our own.”
Those kind of experiences would be how Mason would be introduced to the inland northwest.
“During my time coaching, I had the opportunity to visit the USA with a coaching company called UK Elite. Coaches from around the UK would come over to coach camps, teams and educate coaches in their systems over mainly a summer period. I was fortunate enough to discover the beauty of Spokane during these times, and I knew it was somewhere I had to be! I came here to complete my Masters of Education at Whitworth University, and joined the Spokane Sounders during my first year here in 2016 working with U12 boys.
And his new home is Spokane is working out well.
“To get in the sunshine and kick a ball about with some developing players – I love that. But what I love to see is growth, maturation from boys that may be coming from (a phase where) they might just be individuals in their head and only like to drive with the ball and score for themselves to when they start to become a cohesive unit and start to look like a team. They are passing the ball around on the floor, they are making runs for each other, they are calling for it, they are supporting one another. That’s what I love about coaching. The growth from the players, and the development that can come from it.”
His passion for working with the youth is a full-time element to Mason’s life.
“Outside of my coaching I am a Health and Fitness teacher, working with students across K-12. It is a great crossover to competitive coaching as I can utilize a variety of methodologies, principles and impactful strategies that best suit those I teach.
This area also helps me in my personal life, understanding what I need to do to remain healthy, active and learn new things as I go along. Simply, I love to be active and try to take every opportunity to either get back on the football field, out on a mountain or on a golf course.”
Though time outdoors isn’t his only interest as he currently spends quite a bit of time in the cockpit aiming for a potential new career later in life.
“I also try to engage myself with new experiences and new learning as I go along and am currently completing my private pilot license here in Spokane, potentially to become a commercial pilot somewhere down the road.”
Perhaps a future career in the skies will make it easier for Mason to spend time in both countries he has called home.
“I do miss England, yes! I miss going to see my Everton team play – even though I’m mainly hiding behind my hands often – and catching up with friends and family there.
“That being said, there is nothing like the Pacific Northwest for it’s things to do, places to see and in the incredible growth this part of the world has shown in it’s youth players across multiple sports. That’s why I love being here mostly.”