The General Manager of Real Monarchs SLC has been kind enough to respond to several questions and provide some insight into the operational side of the USL club. As you may know there are a number of different operational models in use within USL teams which gives rise to a number of debates about the role of junior sides like Real Monarchs SLC and what they do to the overall level of competition in the league. Enjoy!
How did you come to be General Manager of Real Monarchs SLC?
I’ve been working in sports since my junior year of college, and I knew pretty early on that I wanted to work in soccer. After a series of positions in athletic marketing and sponsorship at the collegiate and professional hockey levels, a chance to get my foot in the door in soccer came about with the Monarchs in 2015. Through a friend, I was fortunate enough to meet Rob Zarkos, who at the time was the President of the Monarchs, at an event. He hired me to be the Monarchs sponsorship coordinator a few weeks later, and we really hit it off. I then worked closely with Rob overseeing all the business operations for the Monarchs that first season. At the conclusion of the season, there were a lot of moving pieces across the organization, and Rob and myself were transitioned over to the soccer side of things. It took me some time to get my feet under me and earn the trust of Craig, but I dove all in on everything USL, and little by little picked up more responsibility with working with agents, helping build the roster, and working with other teams around the league. After last season, there were a few responsibility changes within our department, and Craig along with Rob presented me with the opportunity to become GM.
What type of tasks and duties fill your days and make it difficult to get away at night?
On a typical day, I like to start by catching up on news around the USL, responding to emails, and returning calls to agents and other teams around the league. I then try to take in training if I have time, and catch up with the coaching staff (sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes longer). In the afternoons, our department will get together and go over anything that we need to, whether that’s a current negotiation, how the staff is doing, or potential players we might be targeting. The most difficult part of getting away at night actually happens when I’m at home. I like to watch as many USL matches as I possibly can, and those generally take place in the evenings when I’m home. Luckily I stay up quite a bit later than my wife, so I take that time to watch players that are on our radar for the upcoming windows as well as watch old USL matches.
What type of off-the-field staff do you have under the Real Monarchs umbrella and how much is shared with the larger parent RSL organization?
Off the field, the Monarchs staff consists of a head coach, 3 assistant coaches, an athletic trainer, video analyst, strength and conditioning coach, equipment manager, and team administrator. From a soccer operations stand point, there are only 6 of us, and we all wear a lot of hats. Craig is at the top, and we’re fortunate enough that he trusts each of us and gives us all a lot of autonomy to do our jobs. Everyone in our department contributes to the roster building and overall plans for both the MLS and USL rosters, and everyone is equally invested in both. It makes us all accountable.
How do you at the Monarchs report back up through the larger parent RSL organization?
I’m not sure how it works at other clubs, but it is nice having a GM (Craig) that is always aware of what is going on with the USL team. As a staff we are in constant communication and talk everyday about what is going on with the Monarchs, and we always consider RSL when talking about the Monarchs and vice versa.
What makes the Monarchs and USL-2 a good fit for each other?
With the way the league is growing and expanding, there is nowhere else we’d like to be than Division 2. The on-field product is getting better every year. The level of investment each year is increasing, the stadiums are improving, and attendance is rising. Going to Sacramento in front of 11,000 fans is as good of an environment as you’re going to find. There is something to be said about playing in those types of environments week in week out. It’s important for our players to develop at the highest level possible, and Division 2 gives us that for all the reasons I mentioned above. It’s a grown man’s league where every match is tough. Until we see what the level of Division 3 is, which is unknown to everyone, Division 2 is the path forward for us.
What do you consider to be your crowning moment so far as General Manager of Real Monarchs SLC?
That’s a tough one. We’ve had some success this year, which is exciting to see. Any time you’re sitting near the top of the standings, you’re proud of that. In general though, I would say I’ve really enjoyed watching this roster perform the way everyone in the club thought they would. It’s very rare in soccer for every player on your roster to live up to expectations, and I can say without a doubt that has been the case this season. That is a testament to the staff and players for putting in the work day in and day out. They are the reason we are where we are, and I cannot give them all enough credit. That being said, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I really enjoyed the 4-1 victory over Phoenix in Herriman a few weeks ago and the 4-0 win over LA Galaxy II.