In this interview, I spoke to Adam Reakes, a British coach I worked with MANY years at Colchester United. Adam discusses his life in the US, his coaching journey and his next steps. Follow Adam on twitter – @Reakesie
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I have been living in the USA for the last 12 years (on and off) but I am originally from Essex. Currently I am a full time Assistant Coach for a very prestigious College program here in South Florida called Nova Southeastern University. Before that I have worked in various professional youth academies, soccer programs and initiatives throughout the country that has best prepared me for a career within the field of coaching Football (soccer) and hopefully has given me the base on which to build a career for the rest of my life. Also, most recently I took the position as Head Coach with a team called Apotheos FC in Atlanta. We play in the NPSL which is the 4th division over here in the USA. They are only small, short but intense seasons that last through the summer months with lots of travel, high attended matches and a lot of really good experiences all round. I hope to be returning there for the 2022 season as well. Before I started coaching In America, I played over here for 7 years. I played at two colleges over here (Reinhardt University and Clayton State University) and played after college at a variety of clubs including Chattanooga FC and Peachtree City MOBA. Before I went into playing college over here, my coaching journey, as it were, started in Essex after I finished high school. I enrolled at Colchester United to work with their ADP programs and their Women’s teams at the time. This helped me work from a really young age with some great teams and players as well as learning off some great coaches which helped propel me into a comfortability in delivering sessions and working in a football environment.
What is it about your role that you love?
What I love about my current role is the fact that I get to go into my office each day and be surrounded by so many like-minded people who are all driven and vibrant and who want to succeed. It isn’t just my boss Matt Watts and our coaching staff but also the Women’s team coaching staff and then even the Basketball, Softball, Baseball, Tennis etc. who are all exceptional professional coaches and are great people to work with on a daily basis. Additionally, I love how our campus and facilities are set up. We really are spoiled at our program with probably one of the best training facilities in the country. We were very fortunate that when the Miami Dolphins vacated their facility that was being leased on our campus, they turned it over to the University and we were lucky enough to be the benefactors of that with it now being our training ground. It really is something special and a facility that I am sure many clubs outside of the Premier League would love to have. Lastly, I would say the great things about my role are just the fact that I am working full-time as a coach. Many of us in this industry have dreamt about being a coach or manager at Spurs, Man United, Chelsea, Man City or whoever it is you love and being able to take traininig sessions everyday and work on set pieces, scout and set things up tactically for games and so on. Many of us also think we could do things differently than people are doing that are in the job now – somewhat foolishly though I think! And in my job, I am lucky enough to work within that environment, just obviously at a lesser scale. We have games twice a week and a lot of work goes into training and preparation, lots of travel around the state and region which means I am very busy but also very fortunate to call it my job and my career.
What have you found different from coaching in the UK?
There are so many differences from working in football in the UK. This type of program doesn’t really exist outside of maybe what Loughborough University offers. The best way I can describe what this would be like is if Step 2 or 3 teams in the Non-League Pyramid were able to offer full-time football and top class facilities. It is almost like a continuation of a youth team environment but with the added differences of highly competitive games, trophies to play for and large crowds and travel. Honestly, I couldn’t see myself working in football back in England after doing what I do here. I know what I do is unique but it is also fulfilling and exciting everyday. Especially with the region I am working in being South Florida, the weather and lifestyle associated with my job is so hard to replicate and waking up to sunny, beautiful days everyday really has a positive effect on my mental health which is priceless to me.
Are there any countries you would love to coach in? If so, why?
Other countries I would love to coach in….I am not sure to be honest! I would be very open to living and working anywhere in the world as long as the program I am working with reflects my morals and ambitions.
Do you have a preferred style of coaching?
I don’t think I have a preferred style of coaching. I think that good coaches are always learning, adapting and trying new things and so they never want to be put in a box and labeled as a coach that does this or that. I think or hope that I would be seen to be this way and I have always been someone that tries things, asks questions of other coaches, watches a lot of training and games and is adaptable. I actually have recently started really taking an interest in the coaching methods and techniques used in Basketball. I think there is so much to be learned by the things they teach their players and how some of their fundamentals can translate to our game. But on top of coaching styles, philosophies, methodologies and all those things, I think it is more important to be a good person. A leader – which is what coaches are – should be judged on how well they manage people. If my players all dislike the time they have spent with me and found me to be a bad leader, then regardless of the results on the pitch I have ultimately failed. The reason some of the greats in coaching have been so great has been down to their leadership capabilities and getting players to enjoy playing for them. That is something that I have been really concentrating to keep as a primary focus through all that I do and one of my mentors here in America – Joey Johnson, has been beyond gracious and humble with me to help guide me on this process as well. He is a man I greatly admire for his leadership capabilities.
What is your next step? What is your long term aim?
My next step…Wow now there’s a question. Ultimately I want to continue being able to work in environments in the game of football that allows me to change lives, build relationships and make memories whilst growing me as a coach and a person. Right now, I am finding that working within the collegiate soccer environment is working for me to be able to really feel fulfilled and happy with my professional life. So I think that probably continues for me right now, hopefully someday soon having the chance to run my own college program as a head coach unless a different opportunity is there to meet my needs and give me a different platform. I have a long term goal of being successful as a coach and impacting as many lives as I can in the process but the path it takes to get there is anybody’s guess right now.
Any tips for other coaches out there in regards to coaching? What about tips for coaching abroad?
My tips for coaches and aspiring coaches would be what was once told to me a few years ago as I started my journey. Your time and effort is best spent on something you are passionate about. So in choosing your next role or first role or deciding on the next step of your journey, think about how the investment of your time and effort will be perceived and received. This world we live in can sometimes lead us to want the flashy new things or to chase wins and trophies at the expense of our morals or relationships and sometimes we choose to fit into a mould because it is what the social media coaches groups tell us is the new norm but I say you have to choose your own path and be your own person. Let your personality shine through your coaching and that will bring fulfillment better than any trophy could ever dream of doing.
Thank you for this Adam, good luck for the season!
Lloyd Owers – @LloydOwers