BALTIMORE, Md. — Reflections on the coaches convention.
I was able to attend the 64th annual National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention at the Baltimore Convention Center this weekend.
Nearly 9,000 coaches attended this year’s gathering, billed as the largest gathering of soccer coaches in the world.
I had a chance to chat with D.C. United players Santino Quaranta and Chris Pontius in the exhibitors hall. I also spoke with former U.S. women’s national team coach Tony DiCicco, who said the World Cup in Germany this year will be won by either Germany, the U.S. or Brazil. He also lavished praise on Kristine Lilly, who just retired from the game, and was on hand to sign autographs at the convention.
“In the last year of her game she was still the fittest player on the national team and her club team,” DiCicco said.
My earliest memories of the NSCAA events held in Baltimore, was interviewing a young Brad Friedel after he had picked up the Hermann Trophy award in 1993.
At the All-American luncheon I sat next to Gail Murphy the women’s coach at Denison University, along with Denison’s All-American Jennifer Clemmer from Hixson, TX. Murphy has coached soccer for 27 years, including 13 years at Denison (177-52-16), and regularly attended the convention. She said the convention was a key part of her soccer “mentoring.”
“Hearing April Heinrichs and Anson Dorrance talk at the convention over the years has been a great help,” she said.
In 2009, Murphy took some of her players to see Barcelona play Stuttgart in a Champions League game at the Nou Camp.
“Lionel Messi scored a hat trick in the game,” said Murphy. “His was brilliant. I told my players that’s what I want to see you doing.”
The good news for D.C. United fans, is that Pontius says his ninety-five percent fit and a “couple a weeks from playing”, after his was plagued by a hamstring injury in 2010.
“It will be a rough couple of weeks for me in pre-season getting my fitness back, but all the pain has gone and I think you will see a new player next season,” said the United forward.
University of Maryland goalie Zac MacMath, 19, said he was happy to join Peter Nowak at the Philadelphia Union.
“I worked with Peter before and I know he’s a smart coach,” said MacMath, who was the fifth overall pick at the MLS SuperDraft.
Former American stars Eric Wynalda, Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna and Earnie Stewart presented seminars.
At the All-American luncheon at the Hilton Baltimore, Joe Gaetjens, the man who scored the historic goal against England at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, was selected to receive the NSCAA’ Honorary All-American Award. Gaetjen is believed to have been killed by Haitian dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s secret police in 1964. Gaetjen’s eldest son Lesley received the award.
The convention will return to Baltimore in 2016. Next year’s event will be at the home of the NSCAA - Kansas City.
Paul Payne, the coach at Bloomsburg (Pa.) becomes the new president of the NSCAA, taking the baton from Marcia McDermott, president of the Chicago Red Stars.
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