Mark Champion, Julie Champion

February Steps Up

January is over. Can you believe it? 31 days, already over. And we are already rolling in the month that is the shortest of all! We’ll be into spring before we know it!

I don’t know about you, but last month’s 31 day journey through those blog posts help me get set. I’m ready.

The moment has come for me. It is time to step up myself!

Hello February!

For those of you who may not know, there have been a lot of things in my journey recently that have required my wife and I to reevaluate our next steps. We have made some big decisions to get moving.

I have been coaching soccer for 18 years, and I played soccer for 15 years prior to that. I have been able to see a lot of young people grow up through soccer. Wow! What a lot of cool stories. (click on all pictures for an enlarged view)

Mark Champion

Like that time I returned from college, dejected because of getting injured and not being able to play college soccer. James McKee, the soccer coach at Glencliff High School, asked me to help him out.

So I did. And my coaching career began.

Then there was a guy named Henry Tahir who played at GHS. He asked me to coach his travel team.

So I did. I joined the coaching staff at Eagle Express Soccer Club. No one had cameras on their phones back then…so I don’t have any pictures to prove it! I got to coach a guy named Deni Ismailovich. He is now a coach! And a good one too!

Then there was that time I was the Director of Coaching for Eagle Express Soccer Club. We had Board meetings at Ryan’s. The club paid for the meal, so I ate for two hours straight! A big thanks to Jim Turner for feeding me so much!

And then there a few guys that were playing in an indoor league I was running in Smyrna at Grand SlamBen Baggett, Ray Langen, and Doug Moorad asked me to come and coach their boys team. They were 9. They were a part of the Brentwood Soccer Club. The name of their team was Brentwood Burn.

Mark Champion

So I did. I joined the coaching staff at Brentwood Soccer Club. I got to coach a few ringers. Some of the guys in this group that continue to impact me today are Dermody, Will, Alex, Matthew, Dominic, and more… I went to my first Catholic Mass with Dominic…and I sat on the front row…in soccer sweats…memorable to say the least. He’s on the bottom row of the next picture, second from the right.

Burn 2

Brentwood Burn, circa 1999, Top row (l to r): Turner, Morgan, Clayton, Tyler, Ryan, Mac, Alex, Matthew, Connor; Bottom row (l tor): Zach, John, Kevin, Sammy, Dermody, Will, Hunter, Dominic, Brendan

And then there was a man named Todd Lockhart who worked with my mom. He found out I coached. He asked me to coach his daughter’s team. The name of the team was Brentwood Attack.

Mark Champion

Brentwood Attack, Top (l to r): Smitty, Morgan, Lindsay, Hannah, Sarah, Angelle, Hillary, “B”; Bottom (l to r): Allen, Christie, Hickman, Kate, Suzie

So I did. This was the first girls team I ever coached. I started working with them in 2001. And are young ladies different to coach? Yes. But it forever changed my coaching direction. Some of the girls on this team that continue to impact me today are Michelle “Stiggy”, Kaitlyn “Smitty”, Emily “B”, Lucy “Goose” (who is now a coach), Kaitlynn “Heily”, and more…

And then there was a time when I was working retail at Soccer USA with Pawel Miller, and a coach from Trevecca Nazarene University walks in. I ask him if he needed any help with his program. I had just received a coaching license from the NSCAA and I thought it would be a great challenge. He said if I would like to volunteer, I could.

So I did. I became part of the coaching staff at Trevecca Nazarene University as the Women’s Volunteer Assistant.

Then the man who brought me on board, Stan Herod, stepped down. I then applied for the head coaching job. Alan Smith was the Athletic Director at the time. He offered me the job if I wanted it.

Mark Champion, Trevecca, Womens, Soccer

Trevecca Women’s Soccer, circa 2004.

So I did. I became the head coach. I brought on David Cordero to help out. It was a great three years with David and the ladies.

Mark Champion, Trevecca, Womens, Soccer

Trevecca Women’s Soccer, circa 2004

I made a lot of long-time friends from that journey. Heather “Marti” Martin (now a coach), Heather Barber (now a coach), Nicole Hart, Lauren Collins, Carolyn Pratt, Rebecca Tuchez, Kesley Shockey, Casey Thornton, Courtney Haas, Alma Lara, Alaina McKinney, Danika Brown, Loni Osegueda, Lilian Mwangi, Anne Opana, Ashley Holloway, Jennifer Smith, Kassie Evick, Jessi Fallen (now a coach), Allison Casalenuovo (now a coach), Kimberly Goodson, Brittany Argabright (married a coach), and more…

Mark Champion, Trevecca, Womens, Soccer

Check out that sweet flip phone on my hip!

And then I met Richard Boone and a man named Steve Sermonet.

Mark Champion, Steve Sermonet, youth, soccer

Me and Steve Sermonet. His car on the left supporting Rhodes and High Point. My car on the right. Supporting the color yellow.

Steve took me under his wing as I worked with his daughters over the next few years. We are brothers. A lot of life has been lived with this guy and his beautiful wife and lovely daughters. So much so he was in my wedding. Seeing Stephanie and Sarah grow up was an honor. Knowing their mother and Steve’s wife, Lisa, was a gift of which I am forever grateful. And a little known secret, Sarah is the only player that I coached as a club player that I was able to actually watch play in college. The Sermonets are special to my journey to say the least.

Mark Champion, Sarah Sermonet

I have been able to watch ONE of my youth players play in college. Sarah Sermonet. This was after the game where Julie and I were able to be a part of Goal #2. Much love, Lisa.

And I got to train Stephanie’s team as they traveled to Europe in Paris, London, and Manchester. What an experience that was. I got to walk on the hallowed grounds of Old Trafford and Manchester United.

Mark Champion, Manchester United

Brentwood Pride at Old Trafford on the Home Team bench. Glory, glory Man United!

I was able to help Caitlin and Cathie (her mom) reunite in London. We got to go up against the Manchester City Girls. What a special team Brentwood Pride was. Wonderful memories with Caitlin, Mac, Steph, Tay, Syd, Heckle, Sus, Ryan, Rachel, Becks, AK, Lorelei, and more…

Mark Champion, youth, soccer

Brentwood Pride in Europe in the summer of 2005 in front of the Tower of England.

Then I was able to join Harpeth Futbol Club (now Nashville FC Youth) as a Director of Coaching. I was able to work with Sterling Nabours and Andy McGovern. I was able to work with Rec kids and Club kids. That time definitely gave me an opportunity to see all levels of soccer.

Mark Champion, Andy McGovern, youth, soccer

Andy and me at the Nightmare at the Rock in Indianapolis, IN. Scary, huh?

10400583_69550035424_9951_n

HFC 93 Premier waiting for a final. That happened a few times with these girls.

I took a one year hiatus to coach people…

Then there was that time I called Hans Hobson back at Brentwood Soccer Club and asked him for a job. He had two teams for me and I was able to meet Victor T, Naba A, Will S, Ross B, Nick O, Jimmy W, Mikhail E,

Mark Champion, youth, soccer

The 96 boys I got to work with when I came back to coaching with the Brentwood Soccer Club.

and Sydney G, Kira L, Jamie H, Maya W, Lauren C, Bailey C, Anna S, Alex R, Shea E, Desirae P, and more…

Mark Champion, youth, soccer

State Finalist after a good run!

Mark Champion, youth, soccer

TSC 98 Girls

Going through a merger of clubs (Brentwood Soccer Club with Tennessee Futbol Club merged to become Tennessee Soccer Club) allowed for me to work with some U18 young men with players like Gill, Harrison, Riley, Mitchell, Luke, Taylor, Matt, Jose, Joseph, Sergio, and more. Those guys stretched me for sure. They made me a better man.

Mark Champion, youth, soccer, Tennessee Soccer Club

I got to work with 13 year old girls like Stack, Maddie, Remi, Rya, Dubs, Camryn, Sam, Ellie, Marisa, Kynley, Maddie, Alexis, Kuhn, Nisi, Claire, Sarah Beth, Izzy, Caroline, and more…

Mark Champion, youth, soccer

Yeah. I started doing this crazy hand thing after a guy named Eduardo celebrated a goal. I passed it on to the rest of the teams I coached if they had success at a tournament.

And then the young 11 year old girls like Georgia, Libby, Kate, Lillye, Evy, Katie, Ella S, Ella K, Rachel, Emmy, Casey, Leah, and some up and coming, very young 8 year old girls like Labrec, Dibble, Ashlyn, Rachel, Mallory, Bendle, Mikayla, Charlotte, Molly, Abigail, Kate, Logan, and more…

Mark Champion, TSC, Tennessee Soccer Club

Not the entire pose, but fun nonetheless.

Tennessee Soccer Club, youth, soccer, Mark Champion

It was a muddy day in Memphis. We made sure to test out the drainage issues. Those jerseys were all white when we started the game!

Mark Champion, Tennessee Soccer Club, youth, soccer

This was by far the largest hotel party I had with a group. Three teams worth of girls and their parents having a dance party in one of the Conference Rooms. Too bad I didn’t know any of the songs to dance to! 😉

What an adventure!

Jam packed pull of great experiences. It is with these experiences I have decided to close the book on coaching soccer. I am forever grateful for all of the opportunities it has afforded me over the year. I am even more grateful for all of the relationships I was able to be a part of.

Thank you to all of the players, parents and coaches who have made my soccer journey what it has been. Tremendous! And to Julie, my wife, thank you for your support the last 6 years. Even though soccer was the only sport you didn’t play, you cheered for us, related with the players, and got to know the parents. What a great few years it was!

It’s weird, I still feel like I have to be somewhere on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I am always ready to get on the road on Friday…because I am used to traveling somewhere across the state or region to get to a game on the weekend. I am not sure how long that feeling will last. But I am sure it will subside.

Mark Champion, youth, soccer

Before the Final

Mark Champion, Sarah Sermonet, Highpoint University

Sarah Sermonet’s signing day for Highpoint University. These days never got old!

Mark Champion, Katie McDonald, Syd Bailey

A LOOONG time ago with Mac and Syd. Traveling from England to France on the ferry.

Mark Champion, Honduras, youth, soccer

I was able to hang out with some of the boys in Honduras. They taught me some things for sure.

Mark Champion, Vietnam, youth, soccer

Being able to play in Vietnam with some boys in a school yard was tough. I had hiking boots on. Most of them were shoe-less. I left the field after I screamed a ball into the gut of the goalkeeper. The teacher looked at me with disdain.

Mark Champion, youth, soccer, Orange Classic, Ft Lauderdale

This is where the evolution of “The Eduardo” began. The Orange Classic, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, after HFC 93 Premier won their division, it came out.

Mark Champion, Tennessee Soccer Club, youth, soccer

Then some of the coaches needed some help. But the kids got it.

Mark Champion, youth, soccer, Tennessee Soccer Club

My assistant coaches got into “The Eduardo” but some of the kids needed some help on this one.

Mark Champion, Tennessee Soccer Club, youth, soccer

A pool party definitely needs an Eduardo at it. These girls have got it down pat!

Mark Champion, Tennessee Soccer Club, youth, soccer

Not sure what I was doing…I guess I was moving more towards the “Hulk Hogan” pose. The little 8 year olds look confused for sure!

Mark Champion, Tennessee Soccer Club, Tophat, Puma Cup, youth, soccer, Atlanta

Yes! The pose to perfection…the entire group! What a great group of young ladies!!

Mark Champion, Tennessee Soccer Club, youth, soccer

And still a little more to work on for these little ones! But their future is bright for sure. I’ve seen them play! Keep working hard ladies!

Mark Champion, Tennessee Soccer Club, youth, soccer

Final soccer picture with one of the best teams I’ve coached. And they are only getting better! Onward and upward ladies! Missing from the picture are Georgia, Evy, and Olivia.

What’s next?

I don’t know just yet! But I do want to let you know, I am working on something…

February is when things start moving. I want to keep you updated. Will you follow along? Follow this blog if you haven’t already. I will try to update you on the journey at least once a week. And maybe you’ll be connected with me through the next step of the journey! Who knows!?

Until then…all my teams would enter the game with me saying this to them before they would yell their team cheer…

“Say it loud.”

“Be proud.”

Here we go February! Bring it!

5 comments

  1. Kelsey Lutz · February 2, 2015

    Champ, I’ve got a memory for you. 😀

    My freshman year (first DAY) at Trevecca, I hop in the white vans with the team on the first night of pre-season so that we could go across town for team physicals. We get out of the vans and what do I see, a familiar face from WCSA… that guy from the indoor arena. We exchange a “hey, i know you” look and immediately my nerves about not knowing a soul were squelched. And just like that a friendship was born for which I will be forever grateful.

    For whatever is next, may the Lord bless every step of the way!

    Kels

    • marklchampion · February 2, 2015

      Hey Kels! I remember that! What a trip! Thanks for partaking in my journey! Looking forward to the next turn around the corner and thank you for your friendship. Until next time…

  2. Lauren · February 6, 2015

    Wow! Well you definitely impacted my life. I didn’t always love it but I know I am better for it. Tre even tried to coach like you. Thanks for always believing in us! It means more than you know. Kylie starts soccer next month. Haha.

  3. Pingback: Home Court Advantage | marklchampion
  4. Emily Grant · April 4, 2015

    Mark,
    For some reason I am just now seeing this but wow so many emotions about this! From the first day camp that I worked with you at Vandy, I thought to myself….man, that guy is super cool and a GREAT coach. You had a way of coaching/connecting with whatever level you were coaching and it is, still to this day, unparalleled by any other coach that I know. I have learned a tremendous amount just from watching you and being around your coaching. Never have you turned me away when I came for advice, never once did you laugh at me for my thoughts but instead, stoked the fires of thought and curiosity within me. I want to thank you for being one of the few coaches/mentors/people that has always been pure of heart. As I continue with my journey in the coaching world I’m sure that the unmotivated kindness that you showed me every time I worked with you will prove to be few a far between. I will definitely follow along with your blog and I wish you the best in everything that you do. The soccer world will miss you!

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