This is somewhat of an informal Thank You, and just wanted to say thanks for encouraging us to send Matthew on this trip. I can tell by the sound of his voice that it was the trip of a lifetime and he is already talking about next year.
It was hard to send him away for so long, but not once did we question his safety or guardianship. It's not often you can trust someone enough to send your 14 year old off to Europe alone, so consider yourself VERY trusted by Mike and I. We can't tell you enough how much we appreciate you and all you do for Matt. We realize we don't have many years left with him at home, and you continue to teach him lessons both on and off the field and it really means a lot to us. He respects you and often listens to you more than us! Anyway, thanks again for the amazing opportunity and for convincing us it was the right thing for him and the right time.
See you soon,
Kim and Mike Mclaughlin
I doubt you remember me, but I certainly remember you well from your soccer camp that I used to attend every summer and always look forward to. My name is Nick Lusson and I'm from Marysville, Ohio. I was home recently and found my "Coaches Dream" award from your camp tucked away with some things from my childhood, so I got the idea to contact you. It's been a very long time but I just thought that I'd express my deep gratitude for what you did for me. To this day you remain one of the best coaches that I ever came across as a player and I believe that I wouldn't be where I'm at today if it wasn't for the coaching that I received from you. When I was 11, my older brother died in a car accident the week before your soccer camp. I was adamant that I wasn't going to miss camp that week, and I still remember how well I was treated by you in the aftermath of all that. More than teaching the technical skills of the sport, you taught me to love the game and it became something more than a sport to me through that experience. And that has stuck with me ever since.
I've ended up following soccer for quite a ways in my life. I went on to play collegiately at UC Santa Cruz where I gradually worked my way up from a redshirt freshman to a first-team starter. I then went to Rio de Janeiro for a year and after getting cut at a dozen clubs I finally managed a spot on the reserves for a second division team called Madueira. I didn't last too long there (a little out of my depth as a player), and I came back to the states and chased the dream a bit more until I suffered a bad leg injury that ended my main playing career. And that's when I made the transition to coaching which brings me to where I am today, a full-time youth coach in the northern California Bay Area for the past 6 years. I've worked my way up the coaching ladder a bit, doing the license/diploma thing and all that (currently a B, going for my A this spring). I'm currently the varsity girls coach at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, one of the head staff members of the San Ramon Soccer Club, a northern california ODP coach, an instructor for CYSA coaching courses, and a trainer for the Positive Coaching Alliance. I'm also a year into my masters program in Sport Psychology at JFK University. Overall I'm made a pretty strong reputation for myself in the area and I hope to continue my coaching career well into the future.
Again, I feel that I owe a thanks to you for helping me get where I am today. Your style of coaching and guidance really left a lasting impression on me and to this day I try to model a lot of what I do from what I learned from you as a kid in your soccer camps. You passed on a real love of the sport to a kid from a small farm-town in Ohio where soccer was so foreign in those days. I hope this e-mail finds you doing well and I wish you the best of luck in your future as a coach. Perhaps we'll cross paths on the field one day, and if so I'd love to buy you a beer.
Ed and Charles,
First, I am embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to send you both a note to say thank you and to tell you what I REALLY thought about the Stars n’ Stripes journey!
To say that I really wanted to take time off from my business in the summer and go to a country that hadn't been on my radar of “places to see before I die” should give you the impression that I wasn't excited. Then, to follow soccer the entire vacation put me into a black hole of “ugh!” However, I can't tell you how delighted I was by the entire experience. From watching the kids get on the bus with both of you to seeing how much they changed when I arrived in Sweden in terms of leadership, awareness and independence was worth every “ugh” that I uttered in making the decision to go. Both Brian and I had so much fun on every level. We never missed a game and often trailed along to the fields with Charles and his merry gang. It was exciting and fulfilling from a parent perspective. At first I was a little miffed that we weren't staying at the same hotel as the team. After a few days, I was ecstatic that we had our own hotel, blocks away. Ed, you were genius in that decision. I loved seeing the girls and boys not only cheer for each other but TAKE CARE of each other. I was happy to hear of a little mischief that the kids got into, because that’s the fun things that they'll remember. After being involved with Coach Ed and his standards, I was embarrassed to see the US team that was chosen to carry the US flag at opening ceremonies, they walked on in jeans and t-shirts. I know Ed, that would have never happened with the Stars n’ Stripes. I think that the most underused resource was the delightful Nora. We spent time with her and ended up seeing the Gothenburg of the people and not the tourists. The added bonus was your decision to put some of the Swedish girls on the team. Our girls still have that connection and the parents were dynamite to hang out with. Grandparents too!
Finally, one of the highlights for us was getting to know Charles. We LOVE him and think that he led the girls in the right spirit. He was a taskmaster, a counselor, a jokester and at times, a parent. (He yelled at Cristelle in front of me and was louder that I usually amJ) I came full circle from that “ugh” feeling to a definite WOW, I'll do it again, and the best part was watching the kids wear those Stars n’ Stripes and other kids from other countries saying “Cool Jerseys.” I would so love to see all of your teams participate and would be happy at any time to talk to parents about the real reward for allowing the kids to participate and the parents to take the plunge and go!
Patti and Brian Tejes parents of Cristelle, Stars 'n Stripes player
You probably don’t remember me, but I went on the trip in 2002 when our team won the Dana Cup B final. It may sound strange, but I’m in London now and couldn’t help but think that there was a Stars n Stripes team somewhere on this continent. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the trip, and looking back on it how many great memories I had. Sadly, one of my favorites was doing sit ups in the hostel in Germany. Anyways, I guess I decided to write because I was looking over the 2002 journal and noticed that you wondered how many of the kids would actually stay off soft drinks. I for one, can remember the last sip of any soft drink was after we won the Dana Cup final and the girls came on the field with cokes and sprites in their hands. I don’t think I’ll ever drink that stuff again thanks to Stars N Stripers. I guess I want to say thanks for the memories all those years ago and to keep doing the trips, because they truly stay with you the rest of your life.
Mark Reagan #13
June 22, 2006
I can't tell you how much Stars n Stripes has done for me. I remember the first time that I saw Stars n Stripes in the opening ceremonies of Gothia Cup when I was there with another team and I knew I wanted to be a part of it someday. I got the opportunity to finally go with SNS and the experience was unbelievable. I still remember the details of every game that I played that tour and the game against the team from Spain in the San Marino Cup was the greatest game I have ever been a part of and we won 5-4. Memories like that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I truly believe that every soccer player growing up needs to see a World Cup game live and play in the Gothia Cup, and Stars n Stripes made those experiences happen for me. I also got the opportunity to train with professional teams through my playing with SNS and after I finish my college education, I hope to play in Europe, which I can contribute to the amazing experience I had while in Europe with SNS. With how much SNS has done for me as a player, I have spent the past two summers on staff, coaching with SNS and it has been so rewarding to see how much fun the kids have and I get to remember all the good memories I had as a player for SNS. Ed has done so much for me in my growth as a player, a coach, but more importantly as a person and I am honored that I am a member of his staff, and I encourage all players that get the opportunity, to take it and experience all it has to offer, and you won't regret it at all!
Hey Coach Ed,
I had the best time on tour back in 2002. I was by far the youngest player there, and although you were incredibly hard on me at times, I scored 16 goals overall. My confidence, skill, and love for the game grew more in those three weeks than ever before. You have been one of the best coaches and best mentors I've ever had, and I truly appreciate everything you have done for me. The Stars 'n Stripes tour was one of the best experiences of my playing career, and of my life. II am so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of it. I still remember all the sit-ups I had to do for forgetting my itinerary! I also made some life long friends on tour, and we still love getting together and reminiscing about our trip! Thanks again for everything!