Kyle Beckerman on his transition from player to coach and the source of his coaching philosophy

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A day in the life of Kyle Beckerman the professional soccer player likely included a combination of cardio, strength and technical training to perfect his craft as an athlete at the highest level of American soccer. Now at the helm of the Utah Valley men’s soccer team, a day in the life of Kyle Beckerman the collegiate soccer coach has shifted over to setting out cones and filling water jugs for his players.

This is all part of a team-first culture that Beckerman and his staff are trying to create in his first season of coaching following a stellar 21-year professional career, the last 13 of which came with Real Salt Lake. 

“As a player, part of being a leader is your physical effort in what you do every day,” said Beckerman in an interview with The Review for the Quickfire podcast. “As a coach, that’s not the case. You have to lead in a more social way. It’s more about teaching now.”

A son of two school teachers, Beckerman says that background in education helped prepare him for a potential coaching career.

“As my friends around the league started to retire and move into coaching, I started to look at the game a little differently. I started to look at the game in more of a big picture rather than just positionally.

“Teaching was kind of in my blood, so it was a natural transition. I wasn’t sure I was going to go into coaching after playing soccer, but when this opportunity came, it just felt like the right fit and the timing was ready to get into this field.” 

A native of Crofton, Maryland, Beckerman has found a home here in the Beehive State. He met his wife, Kate here while playing for RSL and they have two children. Beckerman has laid his roots here in Utah and doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

“I really had no plans to go anywhere. I love Utah, and to stay and play in [Rio Tinto Stadium] in front of our fans… the goal for the last 15 years was to bring those fans a smile for us winning a game and winning them championships. They deserved wins for giving us so much support. To stay here in Utah and play for RSL for so long was an easy decision.”  

As a player, Beckerman made it a point to soak up as much as he could from his coaches, and now he’s paying that knowledge forward by employing similar schemes and tactics from his RSL days into his coaching scheme at UVU. He pointed specifically to Jason Kreis, former RSL manager under whom he won the 2009 MLS Cup championship, as a key figure in shaping his coaching philosophy.

“His style of play at RSL I tried to bring here to UVU because I had so much fun playing in that style and we had a lot of success. So far it’s been really cool to see these guys pick up a new system and really implement it, get some success, and get an identity about us. Every game we go into we know what we’re going to do, and if we do it right, we’re going to win the game.”

Team chemistry has been a focal point for Beckerman and his staff with a vastly diverse group of players. The men’s soccer team has athletes from five foreign countries (England, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, and Ghana), as well as eight different states (Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Alaska, California, Nevada, Alabama, and Rhode Island). That team-first culture Beckerman and his staff have been working towards has been crucial in creating connections in one of the most diverse locker rooms in the country. 

“Our number one thing is to be a good teammate, first and foremost. If you can think about the team more than ourself, it tends to bring people together. I’m extremely lucky that the guys have great bonds and the new guys have gelled in really quickly. Players want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and have special seasons, and in order to do that you have to have strong bonds in the locker room, so we encouraged them right from the get-go to make a strong spirit about the team. They’ve bought in right from the start.”

Beckerman’s squad is heading into the home stretch of the 2021 season, with just one more game until the WAC tournament. The Wolverines currently sit at 9-5-2 (5-4 WAC) and will face off against the fourth seeded San Jose State Spartans to begin the WAC tournament on Nov. 10 in Phoenix.

“We’re looking forward to getting into the WAC tournament and going on a run to see if we can build a foundation this team can build on for years to come.” 

To listen to the full episode of the Quickfire podcast click the link here.