The U.S. Soccer Coaching Education Department presents a new series of articles to introduce coaches to its National Instructional Staff. Each month, the department will feature a Q&A with a member of the staff that will delve into his or her background and coaching experience.
We aim to share with coaches a small glimpse of our instructors' history, knowledge and expertise that they provide at U.S. Soccer educational events. The National Instructional Staff consists of top coaches from across the country, leading the sport in coaching education.
This month the series continues with National Instructor Vince Ganzberg. Ganzberg is considered an expert in youth development and has a wealth of experience as a teacher and coach. Since playing college soccer at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana, he has dedicated over twenty-five years to coaching at various levels and spent ten years as state Director of Coaching for Indiana Soccer. Ganzberg has been a U.S. Soccer instructor since 2008 and is currently assisting the Coaching Department with a number of development projects. Ganzberg also serves as Academy Director for Recreation at FC Pride Soccer Club where he resides in Indiana.
ussoccer.com: How did you first get involved in soccer?
Vince Ganzberg: “In 5th grade my father was asked to coach by the YMCA we belonged to. My father was one of those parents that loved to coach any sport but soccer was new to him. I went with him to a clinic led by Indiana University coaches and players. I participated in the clinic and afterwards asked my dad to sign me up. He almost didn’t because I was also playing baseball but I convinced him. That is when the game found me.”
ussoccer.com: Where and when did you first begin coaching?
VG: “My first experience coaching and teaching was in college. I worked for Indianapolis Parks as a summer job and ran soccer clinics for inner city children that went to a local park for recreation. My first experience coaching a team was in 1990 when I was asked to coach the girl’s team at Mishawaka Marian High School. Then I coached the St. Joseph’s High School boys’ soccer team that following spring.”
ussoccer.com: Where are you coaching now?
VG: “I am currently an Academy Director for the FC Pride Soccer Club. My role is specifically geared towards the recreational side of the club.”
ussoccer.com: You are extremely knowledgeable in grass roots development in the U.S. What drew you to coach younger age groups in particular?
VG: “My background in education as a teacher drew me towards younger players. I coached my son when he was younger and I loved the pure enjoyment of putting a smile on players’ faces. I have also been fortunate to have had terrific mentors throughout my career. Those mentors stressed to me the need to develop players at the youngest ages so I took that on as a challenge.”
ussoccer.com: Do you think it is valuable to have experienced coaches working with young players?
VG: “I do think it is valuable to have your most experienced coaches working with younger players as long as they know how to work with younger players. Many experienced coaches unfortunately do not have the desire or the patience to work with younger players. If, however, an organization can find someone who is experienced and can relate to younger players then that is a huge bonus.”
ussoccer.com: How do you feel volunteer coaches can influence youth teams?
VG: “A volunteer coach can have an impact both positively and negatively. For most of our youth who first experience the game, a volunteer coach can make all the difference in the world. A volunteer coach who realizes that success in youth sports isn’t measured until 15-20 years later can have a positive influence. A coach who puts the needs of children first will be very influential for long term benefits. The volunteer coach that is not educated on how to teach the game to younger children can have a negative effect. Most volunteers I come across do it for the right reason though; they want children to experience a sport like soccer in a positive and fun manner.”
ussoccer.com: Describe your experience as Director of Coaching and Education for Indiana Youth Soccer.
VG: “I had the privilege of leading Indiana Youth Soccer (now Indiana Soccer) for a decade. My experiences and feelings were mostly joy and pleasure during this time. It was an experience that helped me decide that teaching individuals about the game to improve children’s lives is something I want to do until my days here have ended. The experience is an unforgettable one, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had to serve and educate those who played the game during my tenure. I hope I impacted the game for the approximately 56,000 members in a positive way. ”
ussoccer.com: You currently work with Director of Coaching Development Dave Chesler and the Coaching Education Department. Can you describe your position with U.S. Soccer?
VG: “My main role and responsibility is to develop the ‘F’ license and move its content online. My role also includes helping to improve content and delivery for the ‘E’, ‘D’, and ‘C’ license courses.”
ussoccer.com: U.S. Soccer has been working on creating a new course focused on the five to eight year old player. Why is U.S. Soccer launching this course?
VG: “The focus of the course is teaching five to eight year old soccer players. We need to have a consistent offering for all to participate so that all coaches and players receive a solid foundation. Another reason is to allow a volunteer coach to take a course online and learn at his or her own pace to help ensure that players have a positive experience playing the game.”
ussoccer.com: How did you get involved with instructing for U.S. Soccer?
VG: “I was asked to be an instructor in 2008. That came as a result of a recommendation by former U.S. Soccer Region II National Staff Coaches Roberto Lopez and Mike Dickey. During my tenure as the Director of Education for Indiana Soccer I taught with those two several times. I am very grateful to both of them for recommending me. I attended a course as an apprentice and then I was asked to teach more courses. I am always appreciative and honored to have the opportunity.”
ussoccer.com: What does it mean to you to be a U.S. Soccer instructor?
VG: “I am honored and humbled. I feel like I am serving my country. While that may sound bold, I do feel like I have the opportunity to touch many coaches’ lives not only in soccer but in life as well. This is a way I can impact those who play the game indirectly through being an instructor. I can’t get everywhere in this country. If, however, I can improve the coaches I come in contact with, they may go on to better a child’s soccer abilities and more importantly their lives. To help a child get to another level is great; to help a child appreciate the game for life is even a higher level to aspire towards.”