Soccer is a fast growing sport.
It doesn’t get the same recognition as football in America but head Sam Houston’s State women’s soccer coach Tom Brown experienced more than expected within the sport.
Brown serves as the head women’s soccer coach here at SHSU and is working as an assistant coach for the Houston Dash National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
“I am mainly responsible for coaching the goalkeepers and providing the opposition scouting reports,” Brown said.
In December, Brown served as an assistant coach for the Trinidad and Tobago’s Women’s National Team in their game against the US in San Antonio.
Coaching a professional team and a college team has its differences in levels of play and competition.
“Coaching with the Dash is mainly working with a higher level of player,” Brown said. “We have many national team players who are at the top of their game. These players job is soccer so you have to be really focused on providing information that helps them do their job.”
Everyone works harder and take the sport serious when bills have to be paid for. Brown also breaks down the characteristic of coaching at SHSU.
“At the university, we are still focused on doing our best but soccer is just part of what our players do,” Brown said. “I have to take into account their academic demands.”
As a professional, Brown played for the Amarillo Challengers and Oklahoma City Warriors of the United States Indoor Soccer League (USISL) and the Tulsa Ambush of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL).
Brown was known for his incredible defense. He won “Defensive Most Valuable Player” and overall MVP with Amarillo. He also played in the national championship game for Oklahoma in 1991.
Playing professional soccer, Brown found a niche in coaching and developing young talent.
“Not a lot of coaches have experience working with the goalkeepers,” Brown said. “So it was easy to find some extra work. I had the opportunity to get my Master’s Degree as a graduate assistant and that was where I really became focused on coaching.”
There are various ways in coaching soccer. There are the coaches that scream and yell after every play. Some tries to strategize every situation and others just let their players play.
“I really believe the game is the player’s time so I don’t march up and down the sideline yelling instructions,” Brown said. “I let them play and provide information when it is needed. I see soccer as a much different game then the games we have created here in the US. The coaches take a much bigger role in calling plays, calling timeouts, and constantly substituting in football, baseball and basketball. My time to have an effect is how I teach in training. I must teach players how to make decisions and solve problems on their own.”
Brown is more of a teacher. His players learn from their mistakes and try to solve the problem the best way.
Handling adversity as a coach and player is just part of the game.
“There are many types of adversity you can face as a coach,” Brown said. “Injuries, referee decisions, and players not doing what you want them to do are just some things that might happen.”
In spite of these things Brown believes, the focus is on trying to win the game and not focused on the negative part.
“It is no different then what we want players to do on the field,” Brown said. “Solve the problem as best you can.”
Playing and coaching professional soccer has to be a remarkable job but coaching Houston Dash while balancing being the head coach at SHSU has to be time consuming.
“I don’t have a lot of free time anymore but I enjoy what I am doing,” Brown said. “There is no normal anymore. I just have to manage my time so I get my responsibilities taken care of. When I am at home, a lot of that time is spent watching video or making sure the training sessions for both teams are prepared correctly.”
Brown is still seeking opportunities to become a better coach through working with higher level players and coaching trips.
In the past couple of years, he’s been to Italy and England with US Soccer to observe and listen to other coaches’ thoughts on best practices and how to organize teams.
“I am always still learning,” Brown said. “Working with the Houston Dash has been a tremendous opportunity to learn more. Obviously I am there to work with the players, but I learn so much from those sessions, from talking with the other coaches, and from being involved in the games.”
Brown is able to bring some of those lessons back to SHSU and make his team better. He also hopes to have the opportunity to do some more coaching at the international level.
“I hope I have the opportunity to do some more coaching at the international level,” Brown said. “I have been able to improve the team here at Sam Houston and I want to keep us moving forward.”