New Surf Soccer Club President Jeremy McDonald and his family at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium
Youth Soccer News: Get to Know Surf Soccer Club's New President Jeremy McDonald
"My Whole Life Is Sports"
Recently SoccerNation’s Diane Scavuzzo sat down with new Surf Soccer Club President Jeremy McDonald to learn his views on soccer, the state of the club, and his goals as President of the club.
Who is Jeremy McDonald and how did he become involved with soccer? Did he play competitive soccer as a youth player or at a D1 College? When did he become passionate about soccer? Why does he want to be President of the club?
McDonald is a highly successful entrepreneur with clear vision and a logical, no-nonsense business approach. His commitment to making Surf Soccer Club a major success was clearly evident -- as was his methodical analysis of life today at the club.
Growing up, sports came first in life for Jeremy McDonald, the new President of Surf Soccer Club. The son of a former minor league baseball player who later became chaplain for the NBA Philadelphia 76ers, McDonald lived for competition. At the dinner table, the first question was always “How did things go on the basketball court?” It was only after the important details were discussed that school and other topics were covered.
While he did play some soccer in elementary school and one year in high school, basketball was McDonald’s passion. He went on to play one year of NAIA basketball before his studies in electrical engineering made schedules too hard to juggle.
So how did this dedicated hoopster and NFL San Diego Chargers supporter become President of one of the top soccer clubs in Southern California? McDonald’s new-found interest in the beautiful game began in 2008 while in London to watch the Chargers take on, and lose to, the New Orleans Saints in a preseason exhibition at Wembley Stadium. During the game some people suggested he and his wife, Wendy, should take in a real football game. What happened next impacted the direction of his life.
McDonald was not enthusiastic about trying to attend a soccer match, but Wendy, who grew up playing soccer in San Diego, insisted they should try what MacDonald now calls a life-changing event. So the next day McDonald approached the concierge at the hotel where they were staying to try to secure tickets for a game.
At first the concierge was not very willing to help a Yank get into a game, especially one who called it “soccer” and had only heard of Manchester United from a movie. Eventually McDonald (who never gives up easily) convinced the young man to sell him tickets to an Arsenal match against Tottenham. However, the concierge gave McDonald explicit instructions that from that point on he was “an Arsenal supporter.” McDonald had no idea what that meant.
On the day of the game the McDonalds arrived at the stadium five hours early. They bought Arsenal shirts and merchandise at the gift shop, and then decided to go to a local pub to relax until the game. There was a sign on the pub door that said “Hometown Fans Only.” No one wanted to let them in.
Eventually the highly persuasive McDonald convinced the pub owners to let them in, and it was there that he began learning the true meaning of football passion.
“I went in there and it was just incredible,” McDonald remembers. “It was like something out of a movie as people were standing on tables and singing. And I kind of got a sense of why the visiting team’s fans couldn’t be in there because it would have been disastrous for them. We marched into the stadium with a group that was at the pub, and the experience was amazing. I had never seen anything like it. The spirit of the fans was just incredible and it blew me away. I was very impressed with the passion. Ever since then I have been involved with soccer.”
SNN: Why become President of Surf Soccer Club?
Jeremy McDonald: From a business perspective, not just a sports perspective, I have always wanted the experience of developing a sports club. I have been successful in business and I want to give back. The challenge today is to help the Surf brand grow and realize its potential.
SNN: What do find impressive in youth soccer?
Jeremy McDonald: I had the opportunity to catch a lot of the Surf Cup games this year, and in almost every bracket a Surf team was playing in the semifinals or finals.
While on the topic, I have been impressed with Surf Cup. Mike Connerley is the Tournament Director and he has created what I think is the number one tournament in the nation. The club really benefits from what he’s accomplished in terms of revenue and reputation. What Connerley has done for the Surf brand is amazing.
SNN: What do you see is your role as President @ Surf?
Jeremy McDonald: I look forward to taking Surf Soccer Club to the next level. The challenge here is that there is great potential everywhere you look. The fact that there is opportunity means there’s lots of work. The number one challenge is the sheer volume of work.
SNN: One of the big topics in youth soccer is the importance of player development. Is the focus on winning a good measure of success?
Jeremy McDonald: I recognize that this is a sensitive topic in youth sports.
I would say that the easiest - maybe not the best - way to measure the development is through the results on the field. Of course this is not an absolute measurement.
A team could play great soccer and not win. Or, depending on the athleticism of the team, the team could play an unsophisticated style of soccer and win the game.
SNN: How important is winning?
Jeremy McDonald: We just had a coaches meeting and that was the number one topic.
I assured them that winning is not the only way they are evaluated, but it is one of the easiest ways we can measure the other elements.
If you’re not beating the teams around you, the success of your player development becomes more difficult to judge.
SNN: Will Surf have a cohesive style for player development?
Jeremy McDonald: Yes, there is a style of play that is Surf and that our curriculum recommends for all ages.
SNN: As the Club’s President, how will you work with coaches?
Jeremy McDonald: I believe in giving our senior managers the latitude to do their jobs. We have one of the country's best Directors of Coaching. My philosophy is that it is the DOC’s role to work with coaches. I don’t have the background or the experience to do it, so I will leave it to the experts.
Colin Chesters is the Director of Coaching for Surf, and from time to time I will make suggestions, but he is the one that is directly interacting with the coaching staff.
SNN: How do you plan to grow the Club?
Jeremy McDonald: It’s an interesting question because how do you grow something without diluting the brand?
Growth has to be managed carefully, as this is not simply growing a business but helping a great youth soccer club thrive. The most important aspect is to provide the highest quality youth soccer.
Colin Chesters, Director of Coaching at Surf Soccer Club says, "Jeremy McDonald is smart, energetic and has lots of passion for the sport. We have been spending many hours each week on the phone and in meetings about how Surf can keep improving. McDonald has a winning mentality and strong business sense. He lets me get on with ways to improve the soccer side of things, while he tries to find fresh new ways to help us financially. I think our families will see a few cool new things in the not too distant future."
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