Monday, October 11, 2021

Seven years ago, he answered the call. Just a parent with a daughter going into the SYSA program Ryan Schultz returned to a game he had left long ago to guide the youngest of players as they embarked on the beautiful game.

Perhaps inspired by his first experience as a soccer player as a child, Schultz has continued to coach since the day SYSA put out a call looking for coach for his daughter’s team and has become a positive influence for a group of young ladies in the Spokane Sounders Copa program.

“I played one season as probably U7 or U8 and had a coach that yelled and made us run most of practice. I hated it and started playing baseball and basketball instead. As I got older, I always wished that I had played soccer and had a better experience with it.

“With no experience, I called SYSA back to offer to help be an assistant coach or team manager if needed but was told that I was the only parent to return the call and if I didn’t coach they wouldn’t be able to have a team. I stepped up to the challenge so that the U8 girls could play and attended an SYSA coaches training that Spokane Sounders coach Manny Faridnia conducted, as I think it was one of the first years that the Sounders began to partner with SYSA.”

Two years later he and the girls would come as a team into the Sounders Junior Program and under the tutelage of the Sounders staff Schultz has remained the leader of the group.

“I have been very impressed by the community within the Sounders that has supported me and helped me to become a better coach. From the support and training of Kevin Houston and Jason Bellefeuille to other coaches like Matt Folsom, Jason Bartlett and Bryan Hernandez who have collaborated on training and allowed me to audit their training and pick their soccer brains over the years.

“Initially reluctant to coach with no background in the sport outside of being a fan, I’m grateful for the journey that coaching has taken me on. It hasn’t always been easy and there have been plenty of mistakes made, but I have absolutely loved learning the game along with the girls and love the life lessons that parallel sport and soccer. Seeing the girls grow both in the sport and in life has been incredibly rewarding.

The father of two – his 13 year old daughter and 11 year old son – spends most of his time away from work and the pitch with his kids and wife of 15 years, including hitting the pavement with their skateboards.

But, he does admit that the coaching lessons have spilled over into his work life as well.

“I have found a lot of similarities between coaching 12 year old girls and managing and leading full grown adults. I think all too often we treat kids like ‘kids’ and do not give them the responsibility, ownership and autonomy that they can handle, and oftentimes we treat adults like ‘adults’ and we don’t give them the praise, support and empathy that they need. I’ve often found that many of the coaching and leadership lessons I’ve learned over the years could more easily be applied to both groups more similarly than you would first assume.”

“The other thing that I love about soccer, and that parallels both business and life, is the fluidity of the game. Game plans are fluid, tempo is fluid, position on the field is fluid, reaction/decision/problem solving on the field is fluid. As a coach the preparation comes in the weeks and training before the game, once the game begins the decisions and problem solving lies in the hands (or feet) of the players. Much like a parent, the hard work comes in the culture and environment that you provide before the child (or player) is in the position to make their own decisions and problem solve the life situations that they encounter to either succeed or fail on their own. And if they do fail, as parents or coaches, we are here to help them get up, redirect and keep on playing.”



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