New South Whidbey High School boys soccer coach Richard Fuss will bring along a lifelong passion for the sport when he reports to the Falcons’ first practice Monday, March 2.
“I grew up, literally, on a soccer field in Stone Mountain, Geo., beginning at age 5 and playing through college,” Fuss said. “I fell in love with the game at my first practice, and, although I enjoy and appreciate many sports, it remains my sporting passion.”
Fuss takes over the reins of the South Whidbey program from Emerson Robbins, who stepped down after seven seasons at the helm.
Robbins said he resigned for a number of reasons, including that several highly qualified coaches were interested in taking over.
“I just wanted to be sure to leave the program, which I had put my heart and soul into, in good hands, and I am confident that will now be the case,” Robbins said.
“I’m sure not getting any younger,” he added.
Fuss said coaching the Falcons enables him to share his love for soccer with another generation of players.
“I was fortunate to have some great coaches, and this allows me to honor them by striving to be a great coach in my own right,” Fuss said. “South Whidbey has a history of strong soccer teams with excellent community support, so I am looking forward to doing what I can to uphold this South Whidbey soccer tradition.”
Growing up, Fuss was among the first generation of young Americans to receive European coaching.
“I was fortunate enough to be coached by both Dutch and English professional players and international coaches, a few of whom played with and coached greats like Pele and Georgio Chinaglia,” he said.
While playing youth soccer in Georgia, Fuss was a member of several state championship teams; one was ranked in the top four nationally for its age group.
His high school team also won a state title. From there, he played for nationally ranked New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University) and Erskine College in South Carolina.
His college career ended during the gap between the professional North American Soccer League ending and Major Soccer League beginning.
Therefore, “coaching was a natural way for me to stay involved in the sport,” he said.
Fuss is an Ordained Elder for the United Methodist Church, and his job has taken him from Georgia to Idaho to Oregon and, in June 2019, to South Whidbey.
At each stop he coached, mostly select and travel teams with players ranging from 8 to 18. This will be his first high school coaching job.
His goal for South Whidbey is to not only have a successful team this season, “but to work to develop the soccer program as a whole with an emphasis on young player development.”
“I learned many of my life lessons about hard work, dedication, graceful winning and losing, positivity and relationship-building on the soccer field,” Fuss said. “My goal with every team I coach is both to teach them the sport and to provide opportunities for them to grow as young adults.
“Soccer, like life, always has challenges, and my goal is to equip my players with the skills and confidence to meet those challenges both on and off the pitch. I am excited and honored to coach this team and look forward to seeing people in the stands for our games.”