Indoor Soccer News: Sockers’ Nate Hetherington Leads by Example
To his teammates on the San Diego Sockers, he is “Captain America.” To the boys and girls of Rancho Santa Fe Attack, he is just “Coach,” one of the most important titles in the world. By whatever name, Nate Hetherington is an accomplished professional soccer player and youth soccer coach who has worked his way up through the local soccer scene, with stops at San Diego Surf, Nomads and UC San Diego.
|Coach Nate Hetherington's Fans - Youth Soccer Players from RSF ATTACK
Who is this San Diego Sockers' player who inspires such a fan base? A local boy, Hetherington, grew up in Encinitas and began playing competitive soccer at age 7. Hetherinton started playing with the competitive youth soccer club San Diego Surf, playing there until age 13 when he transferred to Nomads for the rest of his youth career. He played high school soccer at San Dieguito High, where he was named Player of the Year in his junior season. Moving on to UCSD, Hetherington had his best year in 1996 when he scored 31 points, which still ranks in the school’s top-ten list for a single season.
Back after a torn ACL suffered in the post-season sidelined him for the 2010-2011 season, Hetherington has returned to the pitch to help the SD Sockers' in their quest for a third consecutive league championship. "I feel fortunate to be able to play at this level again with such a talented group of players who have proven to be great friends," said Hetherington in a recent interview.
Nate Hetherington's professional career has included both indoor and outdoor seasons, playing with the SD Sockers in the early 2000s as well as the outdoor San Diego Flash and Atlanta Silverbacks. In 2009 Hetherington rejoined the Sockers, now in the PASL-Pro, and helped lead the team to the 2009-2010 championship.
|Nate Hetherington - Photo Credit: Aaron Jaffe
SNN: When did you start playing?
Nate Hetherington: "I started playing competitively at the age of 7 and haven't stopped since."
SMM: WHere do you coach and what teams?
Nate Hetherington: "I coach for Rancho Santa Fe Attack. I have three talented teams, GU12, BU14, and GU17."
SNN: What do you like about being a youth soccer coach?
Nate Hetherington: "I enjoy watching players improve in all aspects of the game, especially the psychological side that teaches players to be confident every time they step onto the field. I hope that this will carry over into their everyday lives. I also think it is important to encourage the comraderie between teammates as it creates a special bond. The coaches I have had through my youth and professional career have had a great impact on me, and I feel good fostering that same passion for soccer that I have enjoyed."
Hetherington began coaching early in his playing career, putting in six years with Cardiff FC and two with Encinitas Express before joining RSF Attack in 2002. He is now Assistant Director of Coaching for the club, as well as head coach for the Girls U-12 Green and U-17 White teams and the Boys U-14 Green squad.
Malcolm Tovey, Director of Coaching at RSF Attack, was delighted to be reunited with Hetherington, whom he coached as a boy at Surf.
“I’ve known Nate for a very long time,” said Tovey. “He’s just developed into an outstanding coach and a fantastic representative for the club. All of his teams just absolutely adore him.”
Fellow RSF Attack coach Warren Jacobs also has high praise for Hetherington. “I think Nate Hetherington is one of the greatest youth soccer coaches out there in our community,” Jacobs said. “The guy is awesome, and he has much more experience as a player than I do. I watch him at work every day, and I’m always impressed by what he brings to a team in terms of his preparation.”
Of his own coaches, Hetherington rates his Nomads coaches highly, particularly Brian McManus and Derek Armstrong. McManus is currently the head coach for the Nomads’ girls program as well as head women’s soccer coach at UCSD. Derek Armstrong is Technical Director at Nomads, and was men’s soccer head coach at UCSD from 1983 to 2007.
Hetherington also spoke about the current Sockers’ season and upcoming game preparations. “We have highly competitive games with the Sockers' Reserves, and their team is as strong as any team we would face. Between our players and the reserve players, we have a solid group of 22 that can play on any game night. It is great to see youth soccer players come out to the games. Players can learn a lot from watching the games." Hetherinton is a player and coach with a great deal of passion and love for the game.
Asked to compare Revolución Tijuana with the Anaheim Bolts, Hetherington explained, “The Bolts have players who were more experienced in the indoor game, like (former Socker) Paul Wright, which made playing against their team more of a challenge.”
Currently leading the PASL Western Division with a 5-0 record, the Sockers most recently defeated the Tacoma Stars 8-3, their best defensive outing of the season. In front of a Military Appreciation Night crowd that included Brigadier General Daniel Yoo, the Sockers easily handled the visiting Stars. Kraig Chiles netted goals 13 and 14 on the season and Aaron Susi moved within 10 of the 500 career point mark in his indoor soccer career. The Sockers next take on Las Vegas Select in the opening round of the U.S. Open Cup.
Related Article: SD Sockers Weekly Recap