Teaching pros

Former or current Blast-Spirit players lend their expertise as area coaches

Varsity -- Fall Preview

Boys Soccer

August 29, 2007|By Todd Karpovich | Todd Karpovich,Special to The Sun

From the time he first kicked a soccer ball as a child, Loyola coach Lee Tschantret knew he wanted to be around the game for the rest of his life.

Tschantret blossomed into a two-time All-American at Albany State and carved out a 17-year professional career, including seven seasons with the Blast. As he contemplates whether he will return for another season with the Blast, he has embraced another aspect of his soccer life.

Tschantret, 38, is one of several former or current professional players coaching high school soccer in the metro area this season.

"I have been involved in soccer for 33 years and it is part of my life," said Tschantret, who has also played professionally for six other indoor franchises and five outdoor teams. "It is not just something I do. It is something that I love to do. So, I knew in some capacity, be it college or pro or high school, that I would be involved somewhere in soccer. Legs only last so long."

McDonogh coach Steve Nichols decided on a coaching career because it provided more stability for his family than trying to continue to play professional soccer, which is considerably less lucrative than other professional sports in the United States. Nichols played a year with the Spirit, which later became the Blast, and two years with the Bays, a semi-professional outdoor team, but the job at McDonogh was too good to pass up.

Nichols, who is entering his 11th season as coach of the Eagles, said one of the challenges of being a former pro is that expectations from the players are high.

"When I came to McDonogh, we were primarily a [Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association] B Conference team that wanted to play in the A Conference, so one of the hardest things for me was to turn it around," said Nichols, 38. "I had certain expectations that we needed to play at a certain level. I just needed to have some patience and realized it was going to take some time."

The patience has paid off, as McDonogh has played in 10 of the past 11 MIAA A Conference championship games, winning in 1998, 2000 and 2004.

Barry Stitz, the coach at Archbishop Curley and another former player for the Blast and Spirit, won his 100th game as coach of the Friars with last season's 1-0 victory over McDonogh in the MIAA A Conference championship game. Stitz, 37, caught the coaching bug while working at soccer camps during his eight years as a pro player.

"The most challenging thing for me is seeing guys with real ability, even more than I ever had, not work to bring out their full potential," Stitz said. "I have seen some players with real ability underachieve because they were not motivated enough or did not work hard enough to develop their tools."

Scott Manning, a former goalie for the Blast and a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, is starting his fourth year at Dulaney. He got his start coaching while helping out Bill Sento, then the coach at Loyola College, while working on a master's degree in business administration at the school in the late 1980s.

Manning, 51, said he has grown to enjoy coaching more than playing because of the instructional aspect.

Manning implores his seniors to read a book called, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, to learn about using the values of sports in everyday life.

"If we are not going on to be professional players or Division I players, then what can we learn from soccer?" said Manning, who is also a financial adviser. "As I tell the kids all the time, this is a sport like any other sport in that it doesn't build character, it reveals it."

Steve LeVine, a senior forward for Loyola, has played for three coaches who competed professionally. LeVine played club soccer for Nichols; and his former coach at Loyola, Kyle Swords, was a standout defender for the Charleston Battery in the First Division of the United Soccer Leagues before stepping down last season when Tschantret took over.

"They have been there before and they know all the hard work that it takes to get to the professional level," said LeVine, a second-team All-Baltimore County pick last season. "It is easy to see how much they love the game."

Denison Cabral, who has played for the Blast since 1998, is in his second year as coach at St. Mary's. As a pro player, Cabral, 33, said he has a responsibility to give back to the sport and help mold players that might have shot at the professional ranks some day.

"It is part of our duty as professional soccer players to share our experiences with the kids," Cabral said. "We have fun doing this."

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