Over the years of Sounder at Heart I’ve had the opportunity to meet many coaches and players. They’ve helped with charity events, answered dumb questions and been a part of my attempts to be a part-time, then a full-time and again a part-time writer. What’s this have to do with Brian Schmetzer?
A few years ago, in middle of that full-time freelance writing period, I lost my mother-in-law. I was her primary care provider for a few weeks, and didn’t attend practice for a several weeks. Going back to practice after the passing of a loved one was difficult. I needed to talk to Ezra Hendrickson, the assistant in charge of defense at the time, he was great. We focused on tactics. I don’t remember that conversation.
Sounders remove interim tag, announce Schmetzer as permanent h...
Sounders remove interim tag, announce Schmetzer as permanent head coachPosted by Sounder at Heart on Wednesday, November 2, 2016
I remember Brian Schmetzer. He was courteous enough to let me focus on the job of tactics talk. At the same time he put a hand on my shoulder, and gave me a little “Dave” with a nod. I continued to interview Ezra; Brian walked past me. It was a kind, wonderful moment. It was a single word and a hand on my shoulder.
Wednesday night after Schmetzer had the interim tag ripped off his title — as it should have been — and after he talked to the media, I asked Brian if I could share that story. Except it was hard. I nearly cried. That’s what our moment meant to me.
Brian told me a couple of things. I didn’t record them. He said that I could share the story, that I couldn’t cry, and he put a hand on my shoulder. Somehow I did not cry.
Coach Schmetzer and I have exchanged a lot of words. We talked about sequences, patterns, dummies, tactics and shapes for nearly a decade.
Brian Schmetzer, a Seattle Sounder at birth, put his hand on my shoulder twice, said my name just once, and told me that he cared.
Here’s the thing. This personal story isn’t unusual. Schmetz knows and loves so many of you. He has two families. One shares his last name and the other calls themselves Sounders.
He is the one that peels back the barriers to let the fans get closer to the players and coaches. He is the one who leads the team down to the bar to meet traveling fans. He is the one who gives ECS Grandma a big hug.
Not every Sounders fan has met that Brian, the one who bleeds all shades of blue and green, who loves you if you love this place and club. When you do, you will see a genuine man who desires your happiness. Sure, Coach Schmetzer will talk about tactics and formations and strategy and soccer.
He is more complex than that. I know a lot of people with other stories, similar stories. They are all over the Puget Sound. Those stories are your stories. If you don’t have a Brian Schmetzer story now, you probably will in future years.
Brian Schmetzer is a true believer in what it means to be a Sounder, even if none of us know what that means. I’m honored to know him. I’m honored to have him as a coach of a team I love. He made one of the hardest moments of my life a tiny bit better. You cannot ask for more than that.
I hope you get the opportunity to meet the Brian Schmetzer I know. He’s a wonderful man. That’s been true for quite some time. It will be true while he’s the coach of the team. It will be true when he’s not the coach of the team.
That’s the Brian Schmetzer I know. He’s family, forever. I do not share his name. We are Sounders, forever.