Monday, August 23, 2021
Seventeen. Coach Tim Seely had the world literally at his feet as a teenager. It was also the point at which the seed was planted and roots of his lengthy coaching career began.
A fixture in the Spokane coaching community for so long, it is understandable for many to not know that Tim Seely was one of the first breakthrough soccer players from the area well before everything was documented in the digital world. His passion for the sport, though, led him down his coaching path long before his time on the field came to a close.
As a teenager in high school in the early 1990s Seely was enjoying a successful career on the pitch, leading North Central to competitive heights and earning opportunities internationally with US Soccer. It all stemmed from a 24-7 drive to play.
“From an early age I knew soccer was my passion. I always had the ball with me, and it was a stress releasing outlet for me. I played 6-7 days a week, and it wasn’t just practice. It was calling buddies to get a 2-v-2 game, working on juggling or calling a friend to play long balls. I was constantly around the ball.
“I know it sounds crazy, but simply going to practice won’t make you the best.”
Tim joined NC as a junior and things were off to a great start under now long-time Ferris coach Robin Crane, but that’s when a huge opportunity came knocking midway through the campaign – an invitation to join the US Under-17 National Team on a trip to France.
“Words really can’t describe it. It is an honor to wear your country’s colors in any fashion and play against the best in the world. I was honored to be called up to go to France with the National Team in 1992.
“Playing against true professionals that are 17 really helped me grow up and develop. It was an incredible three-week experience, playing against Belgium, France and Israel as well as top youth clubs like Lyon, Marseille and others.”
The following year he helped North Central reach heights rarely seen today.
“My senior season we had a hard working, industrial-type team. My good friend Biniam Afenegus and his brother Yoseph were both good players, and Robin Crane was a great coach for us. It was an awesome run for NC to get third in state.”
Despite that talent, though, classroom life was letting Seely down and he would go on to play junior college soccer.
“School was not really a comfortable environment – very nerve -racking – and it showed in the classroom. I had offers from a lot of high-end soccer schools but my grades held me back as I just never could get comfortable in a classroom setting.
“But that’s why I harp on these boys now to do well in the classroom… and it’s why Nick Piger (the club’s Boys College Advisor) harps on them too. Soccer is one piece to the puzzle.”
Injury, unfortunately, would also come into the picture as it sidelined him during his collegiate years.
He would see a resurgence in the late 90s, however, with the launch of the Spokane Shadow men’s team. He quickly became a fan favorite on a squad that featured veteran players that were his senior and younger high school players following in his footsteps such club technical director Abbas Faridnia and future MLS players Zach Kingsley and Billy Sleeth.
Though most of the development and mentorship at the time fell on the shoulders of coach Sean Bushey and captain Stuart Saunders, his talent and experience played a role in shaping the future. He would go on to play for the team over the course of three stints, helping lead the Shadow to division titles in the USL PDL in its formative years in 1996 and 1997 and to the league final when he returned in 1999.
But where did the coaching passion begin you ask? It all started during those breakout high school years. Again, as a way to be involved in the game to every extent available.
“Man, I started when I was 17 years old just helping out at Skyhawks camps and any camp that I could find. I wanted to be around the ball as much as possible.
“It has continued for nearly 30 years, and I have had the privilege to train some of the best women and men to come out of this area. It has been so exciting to watch kids that you see daily – four, five or six days a week grow as a player and a person.
“As I have gotten older – eight surgeries later – and am not able to play with the kids as much, but I make sure to engrain my mentality and style in my teams. Many players and friendships later I still enjoy the kids and the game.”
And now that his own kids are growing, he provides that same encouragement.
“I have never pressed my kids to play soccer. They know that I am proud of them and will stand behind them in any sport or passion they have.”