The following letter was submitted to Sounder at Heart by Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer. It is lightly edited and maintains the coach’s voice about his friend and colleague Sigi Schmid.
Dear Schmid family and Sounder fans,
My thoughts and prayers go out to Sigi’s immediate family, but also to the many people he touched during his life. I am deeply saddened for the loss of a great man. I want to celebrate his life with some thoughts that required more time to process and compile. The news of Sigi’s passing came as a shock to most of us, but he was deeply religious so it was almost fitting he passed on the most holy of all days of the year. I believe that one should not be afraid of death, it is inevitable, but what you should be afraid of is not doing great things before you die. Sigi has accomplished a lot of great things in his life, and we will miss him.
I remember the first time I met him when I was coaching the USL Sounders. Adrian and I made trips to the MLS combine to scout players, network with MLS teams/coaches. I called Sigi out of the blue, started to tell him a little bit about myself and the team, but he already knew of me and had seen our team. I asked him for some time to pick his brain about players, coaching, etc. and we met for coffee. He was very forthcoming and extremely helpful in his responses to my queries. The meeting ended, and I remember feeling like I had just spent an hour with a very considerate man. He seemed interested in helping me, with no strings attached. He had a wealth of knowledge that he was willing to share and seemed happy to do so. When Sigi was hired as coach I felt it was the right hire for the job. His knowledge of the League was second to none, his ability to remember names, dates, scores, games, moments in those games was uncanny. (Kurt is lucky to have some of these same qualities!!) I could never replicate those character traits, but I absorbed other pieces of information from Sigi that I use in my coaching.
On a personal level I was able to experience and witness a lot about Sigi and his character. He was very dedicated to his craft but still managed to find time for family. He was immensely proud of his family’s accomplishments and very loyal. I remember the times we had with the staff at some of his favorite haunts, “Siegfrieds” deli in RSL, the Austrian restaurant in KC where we would go for dinner and good laughs. Grant [Clark] would make the plans and Sigi would want everyone to be there, always inclusive. What you saw in interviews where he had moments he broke down, was all Sigi was. He cared, and it showed. He was a tough competitor, but he also had a softer side I always appreciated. We lost a friend yesterday, but Sigi was able to give us so much and for that, I am deeply appreciative.