Well, it has definitely been awhile. My apologies as I have been traveling with the Canadian World Cup Team and reintroducing myself to my beautiful family. At least I think they are my family, they pretend they still like me and recognize me.
Anyway, as I lay awake Sunday night after a devastating loss in Kansas City (Sept. 18) I began to think (always a dangerous activity) about the various influences I have had over my long career. Considering this is my 18th year as a pro it is amazing that I still consider two of my youth coaches as having such a positive impact on my decision to play professional soccer. I thought I would acknowledge some of these people and maybe their actions may help some of you with your coaching or with your aspiring soccer players.
As a youth player I never really thought of soccer as my first love. As most of you know that love belonged to ice hockey. (Now don't get me started on the NHL strike. I only have limited space.) So when I was 12 and decided to quit soccer to concentrate on my aspiring hockey career my soccer coach at the time, Roy Bendall, never pressured me into playing but rather told me that if I ever changed my mind he would be happy to have me back. As I was probably one of the more talented players, this must have been difficult for him to do. Occasionally, he would call to see how the hockey was going but not once do I remember him asking me to come back. Roy absolutely adored soccer. He was a caring and passionate coach who wanted all his players to enjoy their experience with the game. And in turn, I think we did. After a year and an unsuccessful hockey tryout later, I decided to come back and play soccer. Roy ended up being my Under-15 Vancouver select coach and if it was not for him and the way he handled my situation I'm not sure I ever would have come back to play. To him I owe a great gratitude.
Another youth coach who had a large influence on my career was a man named David Norman (he was the father of David Norman Jr., who played over 50 times for Canada). Mr. Norman's influence came when I was about 16 or 17 and I was just happy being a good goalkeeper in the youth systems in British Columbia. He saw much more potential than that. He had worked with Craig Forrest, a professional goalkeeper in the English Premier League for over 10 years, and felt that I too could follow in Craig's footsteps if I dedicated myself to the game. At times we battled, but in the end he showed me what it took to be successful and that I could possibly have a career in professional soccer. His determination to see me succeed helped me develop into the best goalkeeper I could be.
Both of these men allowed me to grow as a soccer player in different ways. One was very nurturing while the other very demanding, but both men cared about me as a player and an individual. Unfortunately both of these men have passed away in recent years but their influence in my professional soccer career will always be remembered.
Until next time,