Driven By Community
Spokane Velocity FC
If you want to know where my passion for soccer comes from, it’s because of where I’m from.
In Liverpool, it’s almost a non-decision to get involved – just which side of the city you want to fall behind.
My family made that decision for me. I’ve been a Liverpool FC supporter as long as I remember. Since I was six years old, I’ve either been playing or coaching the game I love – almost 30 years now.
What makes that connection so vital is how it gives you a deep belief and understanding of what you find important.
And, for me, the most important thing – especially in the community I’m from – is the community you’re part of. In Liverpool, we rely on the successes and the failures of the football teams in our city. That is the heart of Liverpool, whether you’re a Red like me or an Everton supporter on the blue side of town.
That is our religion. In many ways, it drives the togetherness of the city. Sometimes it separates us when there’s a good dialogue going on, but the teams drive to the heart of the fans.
Now, as Head Coach of Spokane Velocity FC, that’s something me and my colleagues are aiming to bring to our community. Over our upcoming inaugural season in USL League One, we want to become that heartbeat for the city and a source of joy on the weekends.
Our club’s biggest aim is to build something strong together.
I feel privileged to have the opportunity to lead that on the field, in part because of the people that I’ll be working with in the club’s leadership. I was incredibly impressed during the interview process. They dug into a lot of details, various components of coaching people and performance, and they were very objective about what they were looking for.
To be the guy they chose is something I’m definitely thankful for, especially being the first Head Coach of the organization. Building a team from the ground up, you don’t get that chance often. It’s a difficult process – there’s no shortage of work – but it’s one that I think most coaches would jump on if they got the chance.
It’s very exciting, and an opportunity I believe my pathway in the game has prepared me for.
I had always wanted to play professionally, and I chased that dream. If I’m honest, I probably chased it a bit too long, but it helped me gain a good perspective. But even while I was pursuing an on-field career, I was coaching.
I started in college in England and pretty much every year since I’ve coached on various levels – youth and pro. As I pursued a playing pathway, I came to the United States for the majority of my college education. I attended both the University of Texas at Brownsville and Bellevue University for my Bachelor’s and Midland University for my Master’s. In that time, I learned a lot beyond the classroom.
My time at Bellevue University was particularly eye-opening. When I was there as a student, you felt the outreach they had. At the time I was a student, I was also a student worker in the College of Business. At that time, the College of Business had created a partnership with a university in China. For a school in Nebraska, Bellevue University’s outreach internationally was fantastic.
When I reflected on my time on campus after the USL announced its partnership with Bellevue University, the two organizations coming together was really no surprise to me. Through its online programs, Bellevue University’s ambition as a school has always been to make a major impact in the educational world. The flexibility, online format, and breadth of programs that Bellevue University can now offer players across the USL – especially those who leave school early to pursue their professional goals – is tremendous.
As for my own educational pathway, it’s recently taken a different direction. In December, I went from being the student to the teacher, helping lead a USSF “B” Coaching License course with a collection of current professional players.
Coaching education is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. To get the opportunity, I went through the federation’s courses to learn about different teaching methodologies, different learning styles and essentially how you can bring those two together.
It’s really had a positive impact on me as a person. I think it’s actually helped me become more educated on teaching, which naturally translates to coaching.
My hope is that experience – alongside the others I’ve had in my career as an assistant and head coach – will positively impact what we’re setting out to accomplish in Spokane.
You only need to look at what we accomplished with the Charleston Battery last season to see what’s possible. In reaching the USL Championship Final, it was obviously a great year on the field, but as important was just to see the development of the team from the start of the year to the end. The biggest takeaway for me was how the components come together. On the field, the tactics, the technique, the recruitment, it’s all important, but what you put together in the locker room in terms of people is more important.
The togetherness we had as an organization at the Battery was a huge factor in us getting to the Final and achieving what we did. It was a really, really big rubber stamp for me to say, ‘you know, you’ve got to get the right people.’
The people and their personalities, for me, have become the more important thing than the player.
Yeah, they go hand in hand. Yeah, it can sometimes flip around the other way. But as part of that recruitment process, it’s really taught me to dig into the people more to make sure that you get the right people. If you get that right from No. 1 to No. 22 on the roster, you get a better chance of achieving success.
I believe that’s what we’re accomplishing with the signings we’ve made, and we can’t wait to take to the field at One Spokane Stadium for our inaugural home opener on March 16. The club has done a fantastic job with ticket sales, and they deserve a lot of credit for that. I’m excited to see the fans, I feel like it’s going to be completely full.
To feel that vibe that day and the atmosphere from the fans is going to be phenomenal.
The thing I want all of them to know is we’re there for them. The fans are the center of any professional organization. We rely on them heavily for our success on and off the field. For both Velocity FC and our USL Super League club Spokane Zephyr FC when it kicks off in August, they are the most important thing here.
On the field, in terms of me and the players, we are going to give everything that we can. Every single day in training, the work rate is going to be the number one priority. That’s going to be accompanied by honesty and our respect for ourselves and each other. The accountability great clubs thrive on will be there.
Then, of course, the big one is success. We want to build success for the city, and make our club part of the Spokane community in the same way Liverpool and Everton are part of my hometown.
As we build this club together, my goal is to build success, to help people, and put this club in a good place both in League One, and on the national stage.
I hope you’ll join us as we take our first steps in that journey.
From The Pitch aims to provide a platform for individuals within the USL to share their thoughts on things that matter most to them – at the crossroads of life and the beautiful game. USL partner Bellevue University is committed to empowering motivated students to explore their passions, impact change in their communities and chase their dreams.