A Personal Rememberance of Sigi Schmid

 In Personal

I never knew Sigi Schmid, I never had the pleasure of meeting him. His influence as a motivator and soccer genius still managed to reach and inspire me during one of my toughest times.

Like everyone in the US soccer community, I am saddened to learn of the passing of Schmid. The German-American coach was a modern legend during a period and in a country that hasn’t produced enough legends. While his achomplishments are well known, they are significant enough to review here.

Like most American players of his generation, he played college soccer then, graduating with no professional soccer prospects shifted his talents to coaching. He coached at his alma mater UCLA where he was Soccer America’s coach of the year in 1985 and led the Bruins to three NCAA College Cup championships in 1985, 1990 and 1997. At UCLA he mentored a long list of iconic American players including Paul Caligiuri, Jimmy Conrad, Brad Friedel, Kevin Hartman, Frankie Hejduk, Ante Razov, Joe Max-Moore, Eddie Lewis, Cobi Jones, Chris Henderson, Mike Lapper and Matt Reis among so many others.
His coaching career in MLS speaks for itself with five U.S. Open Cup wins three MLS Supporters’ Shields, and two MLS Cups during his career. He became the winningest coach in Major League Soccer as he managed the Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders and two stints with the LA Galaxy.

As I consider the life of Schmid, I’m reminded of a very personal connection I made with the coach’s work. In the midst of a tough period (the toughest if I’m honest) in my life and in need of the multitude of intangibles playing soccer has provided in my life, I began playing competitive soccer again after a decade away from the field. Actively and willfully fighting depression and heartbreak, I began working out daily with Sigi Schmid’s Complete Conditioning for Soccer book. When I picked it up I assumed it would be a ghostwritten text that Schmid has attached his name to, so my expectations were low.

Every morning I packed Complete Conditioning for Soccer along with my gear and headed to the local park. I ran Schmid’s drills daily, in the midst of the Florida summer, working to remind my body of the physical demands it would take to once again play the sport I loved so much. Schmid’s professionalism and commitment to preparation were obvious as I read the expectations of the training regime, sweat always dripping onto the pages.

Over the next few days, I’m certain you will read better obituaries than this one for an absolute legend of American soccer. I believe his name will become a benchmark for future generations hoping to match his accomplishments. To this chorus of honors and remembrances, I wanted to add mine. While insignificant in the grander scheme, his words and training methods were pivotal to me during the hardest period of my life. Soccer became a place where I was able to rebuild confidence and manage my challenges. My return to the field was successful, with one league championship and a lot of games played between three different local leagues. Often playing against better and younger players, I found the preparation and conditioning learned from Schmid’s training programs helped me continue to compete. I used the confidence I found on the field to build on, applying it first professionally, then to my return to school. The lessons of conditioning, effort, persistence, and hard-work transferred to the rest of my life.

So for so many reasons, both personally and as a fan of the American game, I will mourn the passing of Schmid and be forever grateful for his contribution to soccer.

Here are a few remembrances from those who knew him:

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