With the firing of Jeff Cassar on Monday, it’s been a crazy week. But it’s also got me thinking about the influence coaches have on how we view sports, and how a great coach can really shape a team.
With that in mind, tell us about some of your favorite coaches — soccer or not, RSL or not — and how they’ve impacted you. I’ll start us off.
Being from Utah has meant that the 1996 Utah Jazz run to the NBA Finals played a big part in my childhood. The first time I got excited about basketball was that shot from John Stockton. Sure, I only really followed basketball for a couple years, but as a 10-year-old, I made a Utah Jazz fan page (in Microsoft Frontpage, if anyone remembers that monstrosity) and kept strangely good track of Jazz statistics. The serious-minded Jerry Sloan — who never seemed, at my young age at least, to blame external factors, even in a tough, gut-punch loss — helped me see a specific type of coach that really resonated with me.
On the soccer side, it was the professorial Arsene Wenger, who, despite his flaws, spoke intelligently about the game. He always has ideas, even if they don’t play out the way he’d hope. He very rarely blames his team, accepting issues as his own rather than as a result of poor play. While he’s hardly a perfect coach, that emphasized those qualities Sloan also possessed and showed that I found appealing at a young age.
I’d be remiss to not mention Jason Kreis, too, but I know some of you will answer with his name, and I’d rather let you all take that one away, should you talk about him.