San Diego Surf Soccer Club Goalkeeper Coach Greg LaPorte
Youth Soccer News: San Diego Surf SC homegrown player Greg LaPorte is back on the fields where he grew up after a career as a pro. Now coaching youth goalies, LaPorte talks about what it takes to be a success in goal and why it is so important to believe in your dreams.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you like best about coaching youth soccer players– what inspires you?
Greg LaPorte: Coaching provides me the opportunity to teach a new generation the game I love and am passionate about.
The energy and enthusiasm that I see in youth players today inspires me and makes coaching a wonderful experience. Surf SC players are a unique breed – these young boys and girls have a passion and contagious drive for the game of soccer and for their club.
Diane Scavuzzo: When and why did you join San Diego Surf Soccer Club?
Greg LaPorte: I began at Surf SC as a U13 player – playing with some of the greatest players of our time.
I have actually won Surf Cup as both a U13 and U16 player.
I feel a lot of pride when I look back on my youth soccer team and recognize that many of these players went on to play soccer in college and even professionally.
Surf SC is a binding experience for all of us and even after many years apart, we reconnect under a common experience and share our continuing love for the game.
Following a stint playing professionally in Europe and South America, I returned to coaching soccer and my roots at Surf SC approximately seven years ago.
Diane Scavuzzo: Did you become a professional soccer player?
Greg LaPorte: I was very fortunate to play professionally in Europe and South America. There were very few Americans who were playing oversees at that time, so it gave me a tremendous opportunity to experience another culture and to play at an extremely high level of play.
Diane Scavuzzo: What was it like to play abroad?
Greg LaPorte: Playing oversees allowed for me to appreciate a variety of different styles of soccer, all of which I integrate into my coaching style today.
Diane Scavuzzo: Everyone always looks for the Holy Grail of player development – is there one?
Greg LaPorte: The game is the Holy Grail – those players who are willing to study and observe what is going happening on and off of the pitch are those who develop most successfully.
Player development comes from a love and desire to want to play the game; whether one has the greatest touch, best moves or skills on the field pales to the best asset to development – passion.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the most crucial or important piece of advice you could share with the player who dreams of going pro?
Greg LaPorte: Believe in your dreams. From an early age I knew that I would be a professional soccer player. I am the most unlikely of goalies – I do not fit the typical “mold” in that I am not as tall as many coaches may like. But what I may have lacked in height, I made up with in strength, speed, accuracy and agility.
To be a professional athlete, your entire life has to be dedicated to your craft. I never lost focus and drive to achieve my goal. I had to sacrifice many social activities in order to train with the best goalkeepers in Los Angeles and Southern California.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your philosophy of coaching youth soccer?
Greg LaPorte: Respect and consistency. It is that simple.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is most challenging about coaching goalies?
Greg LaPorte: The role and identity of a goalie has a lot to do with their success. A goalie must be focused throughout the entire game whether involved in the plays or not. I encourage my goalies to be a strong presence on the field through their voice, energy and consistency – tenets that promote team unity and success.
Diane Scavuzzo: Please share a few tips for being a successful goalie – what is the role of the goalie on the pitch?
Greg LaPorte: The goalie has a unique opportunity to see the field and play much differently than any other position.
A goalie should be just as comfortable using his/her feet as they are with their hands.
The communication that a goalie provides to his/her team is also fundamental to their success.
I am extremely loud when in goal, but remain positive and focused on plays that will help our team succeed rather than “calling out” one player or another.
As a goalie, I am consistent in my communication and the expectations I have not only for my teammates but also for myself.
The moment I step on the pitch, I am a goalie, I am there to inspire my team, encourage and ultimately perform my role with precise success.
Sometimes this may mean I am not the ‘favorite guy’ on the pitch. Sometime I am possibly taking out my own player when I come out and call for the ball. But my team knows what I am doing and respects that in order for our team to win, I must be consistent and driven. Soccer is a team sport and sometimes we have to make sacrifices in order for us to be successful.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think of the state of soccer in America?
Greg LaPorte: Soccer is at a major precipice in the United States. The success of our Men’s and Women’s National has reignited a surge of interest in soccer. The world’s most popular sport still has a long climb within America. The more media attention is given to MLS and International games, the more American youth will be exposed to the game – and the more popular the game will become.