In Episode 43, Diego Bocanegra, Head Coach of University of Houston Women’s Soccer, talks with Phil about how his childhood shaped his love for soccer, specialization, how we can give youth sports back to the kids, the state of soccer in America,...
In Episode 43, Diego Bocanegra, Head Coach of University of Houston Women’s Soccer, talks with Phil about how his childhood shaped his love for soccer, specialization, how we can give youth sports back to the kids, the state of soccer in America, what elite players have in common, his personal “Why,” his new podcast, and what he has learned from the beautiful game that he uses in other areas of life. Specifically, Diego discusses:
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Phil: Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thanks again for being a part of this conversation. Again, I'm your host, Phil Darke. And with me today is my new friend. He's becoming a good friend. Diego Bocanegra. Turns out we both grew up down in the beautiful Southern California area. you know, we're brothers because we have that, that connection.
A lot of people, our brothers and sisters, cause that's a big area, but great soccer place. Great man that you're going to get to know as I have. And I'm very excited about that. Before we get to that conversation. I just want to remind you to join the Facebook group obviously on Facebook is how soccer explains leadership.
And we're going to be putting some, some short clips, some short little videos up there that are only going to be there. So I do want you to go to that Facebook group, join it. They're just going to be little leadership tips from myself and Paul and some of our guests. We're going to be able to get some little cool nuggets that will be bonus from the interviews that will [00:01:00] not be released as the interviews. We're going to be doing some separate videos there and then we'll only be there.
So thanks. As I said, thanks again, for being a part of this, I absolutely love doing what I'm doing, and I hope that your love, what you're learning from these great people. So without more from that today, as I said, Diego Bocanegra, university of Houston head coach, he is also a UCLA Bruin for life as he played there back in his younger days.
But he's a lot more than that too. So, sorry.
[00:01:30] Diego: How you doing, man? I'm doing well. Phil. thanks for having me. I'm excited to do
[00:01:36] Phil: this. Absolutely, man. It's it's going to be a fun conversation. Sorry. I just got something in my throat and that was really weird. I haven't had that happen, but I'm excited to have this conversation, you know, you never know what you're going to get here on how soccer explains leadership, but you know, as, as we start most, most episodes, actually pretty much every episode that we have interviews.
I love to hear your story. I love to hear how you got to be where you are today. [00:02:00] I love to hear about how you developed your passion for soccer and leadership. So can you share that with, with me and with you?
[00:02:06] Diego: Absolutely. So, I come from parents of immigrants, both my mom and my dad were born in Mexico.
As you know, Mexico is a huge place where soccer thrives. It is the sport there. They both came over as kids and I was playing soccer by the time I could walk. Even though my dad and mom never played, they were fans of all sports, but I didn't. For whatever reason, I was pretty athletic pretty coordinated.
I played all sports, but soccer was always my favorite. And so I played it growing up. I grew up in Rancho Cucamonga area for anyone that's familiar with Southern California. I grew up in the 909. So the 909 is a little bit of a soccer hotbed.
And so I was really fortunate to play with some very, very good players. We had great competition, you know, for, for the people that don't know Southern [00:03:00] California from the 909 players, like my brother, Carlos Bocanegra, Nick Rimando, Landon Donovan, Mo Edu, Brian Dunseth, we're talking about World Cup, Olympians, National Team players and all of us in about a 25 mile radius, some of us playing on the same teams or playing against each other, and that's just kind of to name a few.
So I just, for whatever reason, fell in love with the game. And as I got older, went on, had a decent playing career. Never quite made it as a pro or wasn't a, I would say an impact player at the collegiate level, all American or anything like that. But I was exposed to some unbelievable coaches and leaders.
And so for whatever reason, it just grew on me. And then the background that my parents had, you know, they, they split when I was really young, they both got remarried. So I have four great parents, three of the four of them. My mom is a retired teacher and principal, my dad and my step-mom are both retired [00:04:00] teachers.
And so I came from a family of educators. So it all kind of goes in together where a big sports family. Educators. And I think teaching coaching leadership, something was always in my future, whether I wanted it or not. Luckily I love it. So that's kind of the broad spectrum of how I got started and why I love doing what I do.
[00:04:23] Phil: Yeah. It is amazing. As you said, the just incredible players coaches, other people that have come from, you know, this area that we grew up in, it really is south orange county. The same thing. I mean, we could go on a list of people. I'm not going to do that. If you listen to the Clyde Best interview, you heard a few of those names, a few of those people that are a little older than the names you said, but I know there's some newer names that we could, we could list off as well, but not to just drop names.
It's not for dropping names sake. It's for saying. That's how we develop this passion for this game, because we learned [00:05:00] early on the power of this game, we learned early on the things we can learn from this game when played at a high level, when involved in programs at high levels, when involved with coaches who have thought about these things and thought about this game versus a lot of the other areas around the country during that time, especially when we were growing up where a lot of the coaches were just people who had never played the game, who had no clue about this game and who were just parents who love their kids and wanted to coach.
Now, my dad's one of those, we've talked about this on the show, Paul Jobson, the same thing with his dad, but there were also, it was kind of the beginning of these coaches who were coming in and being able to coach at a, at a different, at a different level and teach us these lessons at a different level.
But we also learned from our parents and these other people who absolutely who were learning about the game right alongside with us. And so I want to talk a little bit about that. You talked about, you came from a family of educators, your dad coached you when you were a kid, too, right? Like me and Paul, [00:06:00] as we've talked about in the past.
So what did those experiences teach you about the life lessons we can take away and we can now teach as coaches from the beautiful game?
[00:06:09] Diego: You know, my dad, like I said, never played soccer, but he was a coach. My dad was actually the varsity basketball coach at my high school. He was also the freshmen baseball coach.
And so the only time my dad really coached me was when I played youth basketball when I played little league baseball. But I learned so much from him on a daily basis that I, I think a lot of that shows up in my coaching. One of the things that I learned from him was really just a work ethic. He said, You know, no matter what, you're, you're pretty talented at a lot of these sports.
You play at a high level, but one thing that you will always do, and this was non-negotiable is that you will always show up. You will always give your best and you will leave but out there on the field, which I didn't have a [00:07:00]problem with. I'm competitive. If you know me I will two foot my mom, if I have to, and then I'll get up and run away because she'll kill me.
But it doesn't matter if, if I'm on the field and you across from me. And I don't care if it's a small-sided game at training or whatever. So I learned how to compete at an early age. I also learned fundamentals. My dad, like I understand it now, if I wanted to play basketball in the front yard he'd say, okay, go out and shoot a hundred free throws when you're done.
And you've hit at least 10 in a row. One time, then come get me and I'll come play with you. And so he, he made me do that. And at times I'm like, oh, you're just being lazy. You don't want to come play. And right now I bet I could beat some NBA players in a free throw shooting contest, because I've done that my entire life.
We went on a camping trip recently and I was like, oh man, I, we were out there on the basketball courts when I was playing and I missed a couple. And then I was like, okay. And my family is ready to go. I'm like, Nope, haven't done it. And [00:08:00] I was like, I gotta go. And then I got in a rhythm and I hit 15 in a row.
And then I'm like, okay, we can leave now. But I was taught that. And so same thing applied. One of my early coaches is like, okay, juggling, we're gonna teach you how to juggle. I was probably 10 years old. It's like, okay, if you get 10 juggles in a row, you get a water bottle. If you get whatever, when you get to a hundred juggles, you get a soccer ball.
So guess what I did for the next three weeks, I took my ball in the backyard and I juggled, and within a few weeks I got to a hundred because one I'm competitive, but that same concept of free throws in basketball, juggling the ball, getting extra touches that just carried over. And so there's so many lessons that I learned from just sports.
My dad would take me to the batting cages every week, whether we had baseball practice or not. Part of it, I think he just wanted to go swing the bat around a little bit. But part of it was, he knew that in order to get good. You had to understand the process. And when I got a little [00:09:00] bit older and my stepdad was pretty well off, I actually got to take batting lessons from Rod Carew. Famous Anaheim Angel.
I think it was only open for about a year when he retired, but he had a batting school. And so I was able to go take batting lessons from Rod Carew. But again, it all came back to the fundamentals, put in the work, do what you're supposed to do, do more than other people. And you're going to have better results.
And so those are a lot of the lessons that I've learned and I try to implement with my teams.
[00:09:30] Phil: Yeah. There's so much there that I, that I want to mine. And the first thing I want to, I want to mine there is the idea, and I talked a little bit about it with Cori Close. If you didn't listen to that interview folks, I, another UCLA, woman there, you're not a UCLA woman, but another UCLA person who is an amazing, but she talked about the idea of specialization and specializing too early.
You and I both played a lot of sports growing up and I have no doubt that it made us better athletes, better soccer players. What do you think about specialization? What have you seen from that standpoint as a [00:10:00] coach? What do you think about it from the standpoint of, you know, the fact that you didn't do it and how that did improve your game as a basketball player, improved your soccer, playing, playing soccer, probably improved basketball.
You had to learn different skills at different places, but What do you think about that? Do you agree with that? I don't want to put words in your
[00:10:17] Diego: mouth, but yeah, no, no. We, I mean, obviously we've had some conversations about this offline or but I don't like early specialization one bit whatsoever.
Part of the reason is I think it becomes a job for these kids at too early in age. You, you can look at the studies. You can look at, you know, John O'Sullivan wrote a great book, Changing the Game, where I think 67% of all kids drop out of youth sports by the time they're 13. And a lot of that is the pressure that they feel having a specialized too early.
It's not fun anymore. And he does a great job in this book, explaining all the reasons and, and sharing statistics. [00:11:00] But I think it comes down to. If you treat these kids like pros, or if you're trying to live vicariously through them, you're taking the joy and the excitement away. We played all the sports, not just organized, but in the street, you know, times are different now.
And, and depending on where you live, you don't always get to be able to just go out and knock on your friend's door. And, you know, we didn't have phones back then. You knew where everybody was because you saw a pile of bikes in the front yard and it's like, all right, let's go over there. But that that's where they're playing.
And it didn't matter if it was street soccer. If it was touch football, if it was wiffle ball baseball tag, it really didn't matter. We played everything and we didn't do it because we had to, we do it because we did it because we loved it. And I think there's so many areas with this, but just getting back to the.
The development part of it. I was a better soccer player [00:12:00] because I played flag football and then tackle football when I was in high school. Well, guess what? I had to learn how to use my body. I'm not a big guy. You can see that I had to be quicker, smarter than people. So the same footwork that I used as a defensive back was the same defensive footwork that I had to use as the point guard defending somebody else on the basketball court was the same footwork that I have to use in one V one situations there, you know, I could run up and down the basketball court all day long.
You know, I came from the time when, you know, when I was a kid that UNLV running rebels and Larry Johnson and, and that whole crew and Tarkanian. I loved it. It was high pressure. You know, some of the Rick Pitino was Kentucky teams. It was full court, press the entire game. Well, that was great. I was a soccer player.
I didn't get tired of that basketball courts, tiny compared to a soccer field. So you put some of us out there and we're going to go out and we're going to be in your face the entire time. I'm not even breaking a sweat. Right. [00:13:00] So it was fantastic. I learned how to judge the flight of a ball. When you're the shortest guy on the court, you learn how the ball is going to come off the rim, or you're never going to get a rebound, or you're never going to read anything.
When you're playing defensive back or wide receiver. You're learning to judge the fight of a football over long distances and catch the ball. When you're playing baseball, you learn the flight of the ball. And so I won a lot of headers that I had no business. Because my timing, my angles, all that stuff was just better from all these other sports.
So I think we're missing out on a lot. Now. There's sports like gymnastics, especially women's gymnastics. You specialize earlier because physiologically that's when the Olympians are young and there's other sports like that. I'm not talking about those sports. And even soccer, you need to have more touches at a younger age because we do everything with our hands.
We eat, we write, we type, we do everything with our hands. What do we do with our feet walk run? Okay. So yes, you [00:14:00] need extra touches, but not to the point where 10 year olds are playing 10 months out of the year organized. If they want to play in their backyard all the time. Great. Go have fun. Love it, enjoy it.
But I I'm a big proponent of all sports. I played four varsity sports in high school. How am I going to say that? I should. I loved all those experiences. I loved being just another member of the track team. I did the long jump. I was nowhere near a star on that team. People didn't even know I was on the team half the time, but I loved it.
I was just part of the team where you have that pressure of being a captain and a leader on the soccer team. And I love that too, but it was just those different experiences that you won't get back. And so I think parents are just really hurting their kids when they make them specialize too early.
[00:14:49] Phil: Yep.
Absolutely. No. I mean, I look at, I tried to get my, my oldest daughter to play other sports. She played basketball for two seasons and the one problem with soccer players on the basketball court is we [00:15:00] tend to foul out too quickly all the time. So, and that's what I was just saying. You can say, I could run the whole game.
Well, the part of the, that easier, cause we only had to run for a few minutes cause we had already had three fouls, but that's what happened to my son, you know? But, but the thing about it was he became a better soccer player. When he played basketball, he had to make quicker decisions. He had to have smaller spaces to work in and he had to, you know, had to be thinking ahead.
Right. And a whole lot more obviously movement, all those things that, that Cori talked about in her interview as well. But you look at like Christian Pulisic, he played basketball. Yep. And that's one of the, you know, top US players, but you, I heard an interview with him early on when he was over in Europe and he was talking about how he loved basketball and how basketball helped him in his soccer playing.
And you know, all the guys, when we were growing up, I don't, I don't know a single player who went on a full ride somewhere that wasn't a three sports star at a, maybe I could probably name one or two, but you know what I mean? Like these guys, I remember Joe Max Moore was at our high school. He was out surfing every morning.
Right? Like these guys are doing something else for the physicality, for the, the overuse. So then we only played for three, four [00:16:00] months a year. There was no year-round soccer back then, at least not for me. I mean, maybe you're a little bit younger, but I don't think it had changed by then. But those are the things that we can I don't know how we get back there.
That's one of the things I want to talk with you about, you said to me during one of our other interviews, The fact that you feel like club and youth soccer is being taken away from the kids and that you want to help to bring it and give it back to them. You know what what'd you mean by that? And how, how can we do that?
What does that look like? Yeah.
[00:16:26] Diego: Youth sports has become a multi-million dollar business, and I don't have a problem with people making money. I don't have a problem with people building a great club and providing value to their players because ultimately soccer is a sport where kids play from the time they were, they could walk like I did.
And far better players all around the world, but you don't need a lot to play soccer. You need a ball. And some people, it doesn't matter if you're playing on [00:17:00] dirt on concrete, on grass, you don't need five goals and walls and mannequins and all that all is all that stuff. Great. When you get to the higher levels.
Absolutely. But. It shouldn't cost $10,000 a year to play soccer. Now, if you can build a big club and spread the costs around, and I understand club directors and club coaches, they need to make a living I've been there before. But I have a hard time when, and I'll give you this analogy and we've kind of talked about it.
If you are a big club, a super club and you are constantly providing value, I don't have a problem with that. If I were to pay for a Mercedes and drive a Mercedes and the price tag that comes with it, and I'm gating Mercedes. Great. If I can afford that, I have no problem with that, but if I'm paying for a Mercedes and I'm driving a Honda, well, then there's something wrong and mind you, [00:18:00] there's nothing wrong with a Honda.
I drive a Honda. So I'm not just, yeah, I'm just getting at the point that because it's become big business. There are more people out there than ever in it for the wrong reasons. Like I said, there are big clubs that charge good money, but the value that they provide, I don't have a problem with that. I don't have a problem with those coaches, those clubs, those directors making money, because the value that they are providing is equal to what they are charging.
It's when they have, when you have these people charging all this money and making it. So I wanted that to be clear because I think that happens more often than not. I think people, oh, well, they're charging this, they're charging this. Sure. But you're not giving the same value that these people, these are proven coaches that are maybe former college maybe former collegiate and professional coaches and players that have insight and connections that you [00:19:00] don't.
So I think it's really important to understand the statistics as well. About 7% of all college or all youth soccer players. I don't know the statistics for other sports, but about 7% are going to make it to the collegiate level. Only about 1% are going to make it to the division one level. And I think it's about a hundredth of a percent are going to go pro.
So if you're a parent 99% chance, your child is not going to play Division 1, is it worth your time, money, effort to put your kids in this pressure situation, spend all this money for them to not make it there, maybe. But if you're, if that's your main reason, you're missing the point. If you put your kids in sports so they can learn teamwork and leadership and value and how to deal with adversity and how to [00:20:00] be put in tough situations and learn resilience.
And so many other lessons that sports can teach, then you're doing it for the right reasons. And I think there can be a balance. And so you'll hear me a lot more talk about this because I'll be launching a podcast and I just want to give back and help parents, players, coaches really try to provide the best environment, the best fit for these kids, because I really think it's gone too far away from that.
[00:20:32] Phil: Yeah. You know, we've talked about this and actually this actually is part of the reason that the specialization is is happening is because the fact that even, even with the super clubs that are, you are getting what you're paying for, but those coaches ha it's full time. So it's year round and they need to get paid year round.
So then you need to play year round. And if you're playing year-round, then they often always say, they [00:21:00]often will say, I don't want you playing other sports because you can get in your time or you can play them, but this is your number one priority. And so on and so forth, or coach is saying, I don't want you playing high school.
And so a lot of the lessons you can learn and you've been getting different coaches being with different players and having that high school experience. I love my high school experience. I, I can't stand when coaches say you can't play high school or with da saying you can't play high school, but these are themes that.
Again, we're taking it away from the kids. And what we know will be good experiences will be good for them in all these different areas, because it's not good for the club or it's not. And some of them may truly believe that it's best to specialize in this sport at age 10. Then that may literally be their belief.
I don't agree with them. I don't agree with a lot of things that a lot of people believe, and that's fine, but to make that decision for the kids and for the parents, and to tell the parents who don't know what the, a lot of these parents have no idea about what you just said, those stats that you and I know, and we can tell our kids and we can have [00:22:00]perspective.
We can help our kids understand that. And if our kids choose not to play other sports, we can't make them do that. Or we guess we could, but we don't want to make them do that. But to say, have the coaches making that decision for these parents who don't know any better? I think honestly is malpractice.
It's like coaching malpractice. We are putting the club, we're putting the, the bottom line ahead of these kids who we’re supposedly serving. And I just, I don't like it. I don't think, I think there's so many things wrong with it. And I honestly think it's part of the reason why our soccer in America is not going up at an upward trend.
At least I haven't seen, but it's either plateaued or going on a downward trend. I don't know. Maybe that's taken a little too far, but I don't think it is. I don't know. What do you think? Yeah, I,
[00:22:47] Diego: I don't necessarily agree with that because if you really look at the players in our pipeline, yes. I know we could spend a whole podcast about the team or the 23 is [00:23:00] not qualifying for the Olympics again.
But if you really look at that, If we were to put our first team out there with the Pulisic and Western McKinnie and Tyler Adams, and I could go on and on and on about all the players that we do have. So at the highest levels, I think we're, we're starting to produce some players like that. I mean, look at what Gio Reyna's doing.
Look at what Tim Weah look at, look at what Pulisic they're doing at the highest levels in Europe. So you can't knock that, obviously when you're looking at Weah and Reyna, okay. They've got some special parents. Th th that helps. Absolutely. But I think that no, a trained eye by the time somebody is 15 years old, we can tell if they have a chance, we don't ever know who's going to make it.
And who's not. I mean, you do something like, like we did in this country to Freddy ADU and anoint him by the time he was 13 or 14 years old. I don't know if [00:24:00] anyone can live up to that pressure. You can find players like that. And when, when Landon and DeMarcus Beasley and Bobby Convey were young players and into the residency at IMG, you can tell they have a chance to make it.
And yeah, they did. But aside from those one percenters, no, I don't, I don't think you can tell. And even them, they were self-driven by the time they were younger, 10, 10 years old. I don't care who you are in our sport is too young, plain and simple. I think when you start getting to the high school age, you can start specializing.
And I think by the time you're, you know, 14, 15, 16 years old, you have a pretty good idea who at least the top 10% are, that's still 90% now. Other people might have. Ideas that, oh yeah. Oh, I'm just a late bloomer and there are always the exception to the rule and I'll never discount the will of a young boy or a girl that wants to, but if it's [00:25:00] driven by them, that's different than being driven by their parents.
You know, kids at 10, 11, 12 years old, they can't make those decisions. And so I think you're right. I think it's up to us as leaders and coaches to continually spread the word that you are hurting your children. If you make them specialize too. Yep.
[00:25:21] Phil: Yeah. And, and let me, let me clarify what I was saying. I wasn't necessarily, in the highest level, the top, top, it was just more on the whole, on the whole, I feel like we're having less players playing and loving it when they're in high school and in college and as adults, like the adult leagues and so on.
I mean, there's, there's more people playing. I just think that's sheer numbers. I think that the amount of players who are my age, who still love it, I think will be less in 20, 30 years. Obviously. It's not something we can prove right now, but I just think people are, it's becoming, as you said, it's becoming a job too early.
I mean, even my, my 12 year old daughter, she, you know, she's challenging herself and she's pushing herself and she's, you know, playing with the [00:26:00] boys as much as she's playing with the girls. And that's something that's challenging her to be better, but she hurt her ankle. And, you know, she's feels pressure to play on a hurt ankle because they need her. And I'm like, no, no, I need to make that decision for you. I talked with coach yesterday. Fortunately he was looking out for her too. She didn't feel pressure from the coach. He, Paul felt pressure from her players because it's gotten that serious at age 12. Right. And it shouldn't be, right.
And it shouldn't even be a question it's not until that thing's fully healed. And then a few weeks you don't touch it. And I know that because I have chronic ankle injuries. Cause I rushed it back. Cause we pretty much always rushed back angel and injuries as athletes we want to play and she wants to play and I get that.
But we, as our parents, as with ankle injuries, we also need to protect them from what they don't know on overuse on speed. Not doing it too quickly. I'm getting too serious too quickly. As you said, I mean, you can look and watch a kid move at 12, 13. And when they hit puberty after puberty, you know, like, as [00:27:00] you said, you can watch it for five minutes and you go just the way they move.
I know they're at a level. They at least have the athleticism. Sure. Right. And then is the soccer, there is the work ethic there, all those X factors are they seen by the right person at the right time? All those things are nothing, as you said, like you get that chance and then you can play. I mean, you know, you went to UCLA, you played with some great players, even at UCLA in front of that coach.
Like you gotta earn it every day, but it's also comes down to some, what does the coach want? What style play does that coach play? If, if Sigi had a different style of play than you played you weren't right, right, right. And you, I mean, I, I mean, I'm a five, eight goalkeeper, so I had no chance to play at UCLA because he only looked at goalkeepers six foot, six foot, two, or above whatever, you know, and at least at that time when I was being recruited and I think it changed a little bit, it went after I left, but whatever, like, that's just a reality.
I don't know if I was good enough anyway, whatever, but point being, there are certain things that will give you that chance. And I think. [00:28:00] I think we're losing more players and this is kind of what I was getting at. I think we're losing more players today. You talked about it, changing the game book, talking about the kids are leaving by 13.
Like that's something that didn't happen when we were little. Club in high school with players that never had any intent to play on beyond that, but they were having fun and they were loving the game. Cause we only played three, four months out of the year. And then they went to play basketball. Then they played baseball and we all played together and all these different sports and it was awesome.
And that was just the way it was. And so I think that, you know, any last thoughts on that before we kind of move on to something I want to talk about?
[00:28:34] Diego: No, no. I mean, like I said, I'll be sharing quite a few thoughts, but more than anything, this game has given me so much. The reason, the main reason I'm starting my podcast is to give, give back.
I really do believe that parents. One of a couple of things. They want to keep up with the Joneses. So, oh man, we've got to do extra batting lessons or we've got to do private training. We gotta do this. We gotta do that. [00:29:00] No, you don't have to do any of that. You can take your soccer ball in the backyard.
You can take a bucket of baseballs and a net and just hit them off a tee there's ways to do it without spending money, but that needs to be driven by the child. And so I want to give back and educate the parents that these coaches are telling them, you need to do this. You have to do this. No you've dumped.
And if a coach is telling you this it's for their best interests, not necessarily yours. You'll hear me talk a lot about that in the future.
[00:29:30] Phil: Yeah. That's so good right there. That little nugget that you just said, that if they're telling you that that's for their best interests and not yours. And the interesting thing about that, as I was hearing you say those names of those other players that played multiple sports.
And I was thinking about those other people. The unfortunate part today is if you see a lot of kids, you know, you see some of these kids that are saying, Hey, coach, I'm going to play the other sports. It's typically the best athletes that are allowed to do that on these teams because the coaches don't want to get rid of them.
But if that's a player who's not at that elite [00:30:00] level, the coaches say, well, if you want to do that, then you're not welcome here because yeah, it is
[00:30:04] Diego: unfortunate. You know, I'll tell you a short little story. On my soccer team in high school, we were good enough to be CIF champ my senior year, there were four of us that were the four captains and the four of us also happened to play on the same club team, who our club team, we were national champions.
We also, those same four players happen to be the four wide receivers on the football team. So when it came to our senior year and we had football practice on a Saturday morning and we had the NHB soccer tournament our coach was like, well, what are you going to do? We can't. And, and it was during double days for football and we had two soccer games that day in Huntington beach.
It's about an hour and away. So we came together as a group of four and we said, The two of us will come to morning practice. And two of us will go down there and play the soccer game. [00:31:00] And then in the afternoon, the other two will come up here and be at football practice. And other two will be at the soccer game.
We got both coaches to agree on it. We kinda did have all the power. I didn't realize it back then, because if the football coach would've said, no, you got to choose, well, then you would have been out at your best four receiver is one of them, Rodney Lee, who went on to be a wide receiver at UCLA on a scholarship.
Didn't want to do that. And then Rodney, Kevin and Eugene happened to be three of our four starting defenders on the club team. So really couldn't live without them either. So they, they kind of were forced to, but they, they were willing to work with us. I don't know that that happens today.
[00:31:40] Phil: Well, especially with players who aren't at that level, I think it does happen with the superstars.
But there's very few of those. I, and I say that because I know there's some players that I've seen in the clubs around me and players that are playing high school with me, that they're telling me, some of them are coming and telling me, their coaches are saying they really didn't want them playing high [00:32:00] school.
And they made it clear that if they. Such and such, then they wouldn't be able to play in this tournament. Whereas the best players, that's not necessarily the same story they're being told. It's, it's unfortunate. It's very unfortunate. And but you did bring back some good memories there with the NHB in North Huntington Beach tournament.
I, I had some good memories and then Ante Razov played for north Huntington Beach and he had the hardest shot I've ever had to face as a, or I, I had to face at that point, at least left footed shot at that point, that dude could, could shoot. And he went on to shoot very well at a lot of places. Yep.
[00:32:34] Diego: He sure did. We lived together for a short period of time at UCLA,
[00:32:40] Phil: but I, I remember Ante because that was a very unique name in Orange County, California, back in the in the what was that? The eighties, I guess. Wow. That's a long time ago, but I remember either his mom or somebody else on that team telling on tape.
Very often. And and he did and, and it was, it was fun, but anyway those were the days, [00:33:00] boy. Yeah. So I want to go back to you talking about with your dad, that idea of him saying, Hey, you know, go out in the backyard and do those free throws. And you know, and as you said, you know, you thought it was, it just made me picture my kid, you know, saying, Hey dad, can we go shoot out back and play horse?
And I liked that idea because I was talking to my son the other day, you know, to kind of mix the two sports, but he was talking about wanting to play pro and he's like, oh, he was a striker. So he's going along with the pure strikers mindset. He thinks he's really good. And he's 10 years old. And I said, well, how often did you go out in the backyard by yourself and just juggle in the last week?
And he's like, I juggled today. I said, where he goes practice. I said, okay, how often have you done it by yourself? In the backyard or at the park? And he's like, he just looked at me. I knew the answer. I said, if you want to be the best. Now I'm not, it's your choice, but if you want to be the best at anything that you do, you're going to be having to go out and do that on your own.
It's [00:34:00] gotta be you wanting to do it. I can't make you do it. And I'm not gonna make you do it. You gotta want it. Now, if you watch your brother, who's now going to getting ready to go to college, to play. He goes out there and he's out there shooting baskets, or he's out there juggling, or he's out there doing whatever.
And some of his personality I get. But what have you seen with that with your players, with you when you played at UCLA, you know, watching your brother these different things that you've seen, different players at all levels, have you seen that as a, kind of a common thread amongst these players, as they figure out how to motivate themselves to do these things on their own?
Or have you seen kind of people overcome that lack of self-driven motivation at the highest levels?
[00:34:43] Diego: I don't think I've, it's rare that I come across a very high level player that is not intrinsically motivated. They either have this desire to win and compete, which most of them do, or they [00:35:00] have this just innate ability that they love the process.
You know, you look at a Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, not only were they competitors, but they actually enjoyed the grind. And as I looked back at my best, I enjoyed the grind. I just wasn't talented enough or athletic enough to make it all the way. But I mean, I remember times where, you know, like I told you, my parents split up when I was young, but they never lived more than, than a handful of miles away from each other.
So I remember I needed to do a run and I was at my mom's house and I was like, you know what, I'm gonna run to my dad's house. And they looked at me and grown in Southern California, like, but it's raining outside. I never ran it. So I'll get wet. I'm going to get wet sweating anyway. And I go for a run and I remember just taking the ball myself and I look back and I look at my brother, my brother never picked up the soccer ball and juggled it.
He'd shoot his free throws. He loved batting [00:36:00] practice. And he loved to play just as much as I do. So he didn't necessarily go do those individual things, but he was always playing. He was always playing flag football or touch football or, or basketball or baseball or soccer. He really more enjoyed that.
I did too, to be honest, I just was four years older and had to do it on my own sometimes. And so everybody that I've, I've seen at the highest level, they do one or the other they'll go out. And whether it's, Hey, I'm going to go play pickup basketball for five hours at the point. Okay, they're getting better that way and the game, no matter what your sport is, the best teacher.
I truly believe that. And so I don't think you have to have that grind of, I need to juggle the ball all the time, but like for me now that I think about it, we'd call each other, Hey, let's go meet at heritage park. And I remember there was times where my brother had a little league game and there [00:37:00] was six of us there and we'd be shirts and skins take off our shoes and we're playing three V3 in the outfield past the fence.
And I know that some of the parents are watching us play more than they're watching the ten-year-old little league baseball games. So it doesn't have to be just that. But somebody that truly loves to play, I think either, or, and as you get older, you got to have both.
[00:37:26] Phil: Yeah, it's gotta be that both/and. You got to love it at some level.
You got to love something about it and it can't just be, you know, we talked about it becoming a job too early. It's like, if it's ever truly just a job, I don't think it'll work. You know, at some point that won't work. It's gotta be an intrinsic love for that. Now you could do it for a while and fake it, but like anything else, I think you'd burn out on it at some point, even if you're getting paid whatever.
And that's why you see people leave the game. And they're like, I just didn't love it. I was done because they could be getting paid a lot, but [00:38:00] it's just, it's too much. And, and, and when, when you think about that, when you think about guys could get paid millions of dollars and they still walk away cause it's just too much and they don't love it. Think about a 12 year old, 13 year old, 14 year old, who has no ability to be able to, they have no maturity to deal with that. No,
[00:38:20] Diego: and they they're afraid to let their parents down. And that, that saddens me more than anything. You know, every year I asked my son and my daughter asked Bella and Luca, Hey, do you want to do this?
No, I don't want, like, you know, my son has done karate. He's done gymnastics. He's played basketball. He plays soccer. And we'd asked him every year. Do you want to play baseball? No. All your friends on your soccer team playing baseball. Do you want to play? No, I'll play catch with you in the backyard, but I don't want to play and you know, to the relief of my life and I don't want to sit out a baseball tournaments for days on end by that, [00:39:00] but we leave it up to him and, and that's one of the things I've always had that talk with my kids.
You know what, Hey, I know you've seen your uncle Carlos on TV and you still see them on TV. Sometimes. I know you've seen daddy coach on TV and you see that all the time, just because we did this doesn't mean you have to, so you, you love your theater Darcy, just as much, you don't see her on TV. She might've been the best player out of all, three of us.
She was the biggest, strongest, most talented. Yeah. But she just did it. Cause she had fun. She didn't want to do it anymore. So it's okay. Play. Cause you want to have fun play because you enjoy it. But that's it. I really wish more people would do that. And if they did, I think we would actually turn out more players at higher numbers at the higher level throughout because it's their choice, not the parents'
[00:39:54] Phil: choice. Yep. My daughter in college, she went to college to play and she just made [00:40:00] the decision after a second year to, to not play anymore. And she just said, I want to focus on what I'm really passionate about.
And I said, awesome. That's fantastic. You know, to be able to do that. And I said, I hope in 20 years, you'll love playing still. Like at, at some, at some level, you'll learn this, the love of the game to be able to play it, but it wasn't there right now. And that's, that's fantastic like that. She was able to have that decision and I was able to not only support her in it, but I just said, I'm so proud of you that you could make this decision.
And, and she goes, are you bummed are you, are you disappointed? I said, of course I'm bummed. I'll never get to see you play the game again. Cause I love watching you play, but I'm excited for you. I mean, heck I stopped playing in college too for a very similar reason and that's, I still love the game and I still have learned and I was able to walk away from it with this feeling of, I did what I was supposed to do with this game and I can still play it the rest of my life and not feel like ill feelings toward this.
[00:40:53] Diego: Great. Yeah, no, absolutely. Cause when you love it, you just keep playing, you know, there there's this place called the [00:41:00] Upland arena and it's an indoor facility and for probably 10 years, After me and a group of my friends were done playing competitively. We played there and we had a team in the league every single year, and we had so much fun.
And, you know, if I live back in California, some of those guys still play there and it's fantastic.
[00:41:26] Phil: Do they play on the Celtic back in the day? Upland Celtic?
[00:41:29] Diego: Nope. We were the Aztecs. We started the Aztec. We, our arsenal club basically took Celtic, Aztecs and another team from Riverside and merged them together.
And that became arsenal. So I played on the very first arsenal team and then Southern California. Yeah.
[00:41:44] Phil: I remember those green and white jerseys. It was yesterday. All right. So, let's, let's move on to something that, you know, it's a bit more personal to you. What, what is your personal, why your life purpose and really, how does that play out in your coaching at Houston and your marriage parenting and really other, every [00:42:00] area of your life?
How are you able to incorporate that why into what you do?.
[00:42:03] Diego: Yeah, I think for whatever reason, I was born with too much confidence. And along with that confidence, I've just felt that I'm here to be able to influence a lot of people. And I never, I didn't always know how I was going to do that, but I truly believe that my purpose here is to improve the life of everybody that I touch.
So for the last 20 years, I've been able to use soccer as the vehicle. When, when I bring recruits on campus, I tell them that I'm a mentor, I'm a leader. I also happen to coach soccer, but we're going to use soccer and this team and this program and this university to teach you life lessons. So if you are only a better soccer player, when you leave here, then I've failed.
If you're a better person, if you have better relationships, if you're a better [00:43:00] daughter. One day, if you are a better girlfriend or wife and you're a better boss or employee, then I've done my job. And so I truly feel my purpose is to make a positive impact on everyone that I've come across. So, no matter what, whether it was when I was teaching or coaching youth or doing financial planning or now coaching.
And part of the reason I'm starting the podcast is because I want to positively impact more people than just the circle that I have. Now. I know I impact more people in the same way that coaches before me impacted me, because, you know, I've been very blessed people like bill Schwartz, who a lot of people who've never heard of.
But that coach at Pomona Pitzer, who was my brother's club coach, he got me into coaching. And he's mentored me ever since. And I still have a relationship with him. People wouldn't know his name per se, but he's had such an impact on [00:44:00] me that a lot of the things I learned from him. I've passed along.
And I hope that same thing with the players that I've coached, they go on and do that with in their lives. So I know that that tree is growing and I'm influencing people that way, but I want to do that on a higher level, on a bigger stage, I think because of the platform that my career has taken, and I've got a little bit of a voice now, and I'm hoping to grow that voice and influence to just really, truly impact people in a positive way.
And I, I take that job seriously. I take that as a parent, as a husband, and it it's, I mean, you can hear me getting emotional because it's a big deal to me. And it's really difficult at times because I feel that I've been blessed with certain talents and it's a burden sometimes, but that's what gets me through the hard times.[00:45:00]
[00:45:00] Phil: That's awesome. That's why we get along. I think very well. Cause I think we have very similar why's and I love it. Cause it's not just words, it's, it's who you are and it's pouring out. And I love that we do have mediums right now to be able to, to share that and to be able to live out that why live out that passion with the people right in front of us.
And you'll never forget that. And you'll never, as I say, you're your most important platform? I don't care how big you are is the one right in your own home. And then beyond that, it's right in your own backyard, in your, what you're doing with the people that if you were to disappear for six months, they'd know it and they'd miss it.
Right. And so to not sacrifice that for the. But to also know that we have the ability to multiply and to be able to train up others and to be able to impact them and help them. And, and so with that, I, you know, with, you know, if you're not watching on the video you're not seeing that. I mean, this isn't just [00:46:00] words coming across the waves, this is real, and this is Diego and who he is, and it's why he's doing what he's doing.
So I want you to share, you know, you've talked about the podcast a little bit. What, when, when are you planning on getting that out there? What's it going to be called? If you know that already? I want people to be able to find that, to be able to get more of this more of just you sharing your. And it will be more of you, you talk, and like you said, a 15, 20 minute deal.
Every so often maybe do an interview, but really being able to just hear what you want to share and what's on your heart just like you did there. So share with people. It's kind of more of the details if you, if you got them already. Yeah,
[00:46:33] Diego: absolutely. A podcast is going to be called Boca.
Obviously my last name being Bocanegra, if you don't know Spanish, it's black mouth shorten it down to Boca because I happen to be one of those people that runs my mouth all the time. I'm always talking, I'm having a good time, obviously got a little emotional there, but that's just who I am that I'm passionate.
And because I'm passionate I, I care about people and I really want to influence people in the right way. [00:47:00]And so it will, sometimes it will be. Emotional, like I just got right there and that's just who I am. I got that from my mother and that that's just who I am, but you know, it it's because if I learned anything from her is just to be the best person you can and to, to care about people, you know, one of the coolest things, and I know it's a little bit of a tangent, but I remember as a kid being in the grocery store and it didn't matter if I was with my dad, with my step-mom or my mom, and I've never, ever met a student of theirs.
That didn't come up to them when they were an adult or later and see them. Oh, Mr. Bogue, Ms. Boke, whatever. And come up to my parents and, oh my goodness, your mom or your dad or whatever. They were my favorite teacher of all time. They were hard on me and, oh, [00:48:00] was it pain in the butt? And I'd look at him like, yeah, I live with them.
I know. But they cared about me and they taught me and I was better and I didn't understand the lessons. They were teaching me back then, but now I do. And I'm so grateful for it. And so I just see the impact that they made on 30, 40, 50, a hundred students a year, depending on whether at the elementary school or the high school level.
And they did that year after year after year after year. And I guess, oh, I just, haven't seen my parents in two years. So I'm usually not this emotional. I don't know. I just want to influence lives like they did. So
I think that's part of my drive. I think that's part of [00:49:00] my purpose is I've just seen them my whole life. Everyone around them, loves them and adores them. And it's not just because they're friends or this, not whatever they just, I don't know. I've learned so many things. Like we always talk about books and learning from this and that.
And I have just learned so much from all for my parents that I guess that's why I'm emotional right now, because maybe I'm just realizing that my whole life I've been taught and I'm just really teaching what I've learned. Do I get better at my craft? Yes. Do I, do I read books to help me kinda conceptualize all the lessons that I've learned over the years?
Absolutely. And I think that's really what it is. [00:50:00] I've learned too many lessons from all my parents to ever really realize it. And I think as I read these and what I gravitate to in the books that I've read or lessons that I've already learned, and now we just I'm learning the science behind why they work.
My parents were, they learned through their education and as they learn how to become teachers, yes, they learned the science behind learning and certain things like that. But I don't know that any of them truly studied leadership like I have, they just had it that they learn their leadership through experience.
And so I guess that they're my biggest influence.
[00:50:48] Phil: Well, I, I hope they are able to listen to this. Cause I have no doubt that we'll be, you know, you're a parent that would be about as Incredible words for a parent to hear as anything. [00:51:00] So I'm glad I got to be a part of that. And definitely. Definitely encouraged, super encouraged by that. So thanks for, thanks for being, being real and raw and vulnerable.
Cause that's what makes great leaders too, is that vulnerability to let people in. And so I think that that's important and I do encourage, and it's not about you know, any podcast or whatever it's about who you are, but I know that who you are will come out in that podcast. So I encourage you to check it out when it, when it, when it drops, which is Boca by the time this airs, you'll probably already have it out there.
So, go ahead and find Boca, encourage you to subscribe to that as well as this because it'll be a great companion to a lot of what we're talking about here. I have no doubt, even though I haven't heard it yet, I haven't known that to be a great companion to this, just based on what I know about you.
And the, the little we'd been able to get to know each other over the last few months. So thank you for, for, for that. And just who you are. Appreciate it. Appreciate you. Thank
[00:51:59] Diego: you.
[00:51:59] Phil: [00:52:00] So few more questions before we we wrap up here. One, one is just off, off the same ideas that the podcast we mentioned clubhouse earlier.
So we have podcasting, which is cool, but this is a, this is like a vacuum like very, you know, controlled environment, right? Not based on what we just saw, that wasn't, that wasn't a, this is a great example of the controlled environment. It's still a very controlled environment. Right. But, but clubhouse is really dynamic.
It has a bunch of people coming in. We have no idea who's coming in any given day. What, what do you love about clubhouse and why should people get involved with clubhouse and what, what are you talking about on clubhouse as we as we have these conversations? Oh, I
[00:52:35] Diego: love clubhouse. To me it's almost like an interactive podcast and it can be so many different things.
It can be a teaching tool. I've been in several rooms where they're teaching you about social media or marketing or business or crypto or sports. And it can also just be a way to hang out. There's some rooms in there where people are just fans and they're talking about major league baseball or UEFA.
They're talking about soccer, they're talking about [00:53:00] whatever. And it's just another way for people to connect. It's audio only. So you can do it while you're driving in the car. You can do it while you're cooking dinner or washing dishes. And I love that about it because it just, I love connecting with people.
And so it's, it's in the podcast realm, you know, the rooms you run and I run, it is almost like an interactive podcast, but it's just a platform to share and learn from each other. That's what I love the most about it in a lot of the rooms that, that we've been in together. We're sharing tips and ideas of leadership, and we're telling stories.
And a lot of this stuff we talk about on clubhouse. I'm going to bring it out to the podcast, but it's different in a podcast. You can listen to it whenever you want, how you want. And I don't think that's ever going to go away. And I think that's beautiful, but in clubhouse it's real time, you can ask questions.
I mean, I had a conversation with Alexi Lalas on [00:54:00] his, in his room the other day. It's like, when are you gonna get a chance to just, you know, one-on-one with 200 people in the audience have a conversation and you know, I've, I've had chats with, with other people like that. And then, you know, I'm sure there's other people that like, oh man, I got on stage with Diego and Phil and they're thinking the same thing, maybe not, but
[00:54:18] Phil: I hope they have higher aspirations than that.
But at least with me, I don't know, you're pretty big time, but you know,
[00:54:25] Diego: No, I'm kidding. But it really is that, you know, w just been in a room with the Texas volleyball coach Jarrett. And as we are doing that, he's preparing for the NCAA championships goes on and goes, all the finals loses in the championship game, but he shared some wisdom that I don't know that you'd get anywhere else.
And it's just really cool. And so I hope more people will get involved.
[00:54:51] Phil: Yeah. If you don't know what we're talking about, the clubhouse app, check it out. I mean, get, get, I don't know if it's still invitation. I think it's still invitation only. Get an [00:55:00] invitation from someone. I have a few reach out to me if you want one.
And we can get you on there and it's, it's fantastic. We'll have on the show notes, the, the times of our rooms, but it really is. I agree with everything you just said. It's it's it's so it's just a great platform to be able to get on. It's not anonymous either. The thing is you can't pose is like something you're not right.
I guess you could, but you'd get found out pretty darn quick. Right? And if you get up on stage, you, you know, it's not a fake it till you make it thing, right? It's a, you better know what you're talking about. If you get up there if you're going to add stuff to the mix, On the same side, you can ask questions and you can say, I don't know, and you can ask other people and I'm moderating the room, but I'm learning stuff the entire time.
And I'm asking the questions and I'm saying, I don't know, what do you guys think? And we have these great people. I remember the one room you mentioned Mo Edu. And he was on there with yeah. And cause he pinged Bedoya to come on and they come on, they're talking about captaincy at the Union and National Team stuff.
And [00:56:00] that was a fun conversation where you were on there and Amanda FIFPRO and now she's, she's moving on to something else, but she was on there. And then obviously Paul and, and Christian and Don and the kind of the normal Phil Smith from who used to work at Manchester United now owns a team. And these are guys that are doing cool things from completely different areas completely different disciplines. And we can have these great conversations that just happen. Like you said, it's just, it's, it's natural. It's real time. It's like, Hey, I think this person would be good and you can invite them up, whatever. So that's, what's so cool. Love it. And do you encourage you?
And the other thing about it I've met, I mean, we met through it and great for building relationships. It's super good. And you don't
[00:56:45] Diego: have to be on stage if you just want to come in a room and learn. Yeah. Sit in the audience and listen. It's fantastic.
[00:56:52] Phil: Yeah. And so that's the other beautiful thing you can connect with the people from it.
And I've connected with Amanda through that. I've connected with you through, you know, [00:57:00] with, with Mo some other guys. So it's, it's pretty, it's pretty cool to be able to do that and and just encourage each other. And you said, inspire and teach and all the things that we're wired to do in our why's we can help there.
And we can actually hear that feedback immediately, too, which is another thing that podcasting, sometimes it's a more passive environment, which on that note, folks, please don't make it passive make it active. In engage us, whether it's on Facebook emails, things like that, you know, for Diego, when he launches his engaged with him, I have no doubt that will make his day when he gets emails and notes and stuff saying how it's impacted him, just here, how he's impacted by his parents.
Getting that at the supermarket with podcasting. We don't get that very often. I did have one where a dude in Columbia, south America, I was at a conference and he's like, how do I know you? And I, and I said, I don't know. And he goes, yeah, you do that podcast. Not this podcast, my other podcast, but I was like, what the heck just [00:58:00]happened?
So that does happen. That's not the usual thing though. So give us feedback, give Diego feedback when he does give me feedback, because that's how we start relationships. That's how we can hopefully impact and encourage each other even more. So going back to you, you mentioned your your financial planning insurance days.
Yeah. So when you, when you were now, I hope you can look back and kind of think about it a little bit, but how do you use the leadership teamwork principles from your soccer career in that stint that you had in the financial planning and insurance field? Yeah. You know, it's
[00:58:31] Diego: funny, it was almost the other way around, or it was a two way street, I should say.
Part of the reason I got into that, so I was coaching club soccer and teaching and. I one of the players, fathers that I coached, he said, Hey, I want you to come to have breakfast with me with this guy. And the guy's name was Kurt, Kurt joiner, who has become a very good friend and mentor of mine. And I had [00:59:00] just finished, finished reading two books, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and The Millionaire Next Door.
And I knew I wanted to do something else. Like I really liked soccer, but I didn't know if it was the career path that I wanted to take. I didn't know if I want to be a teacher and soccer coach. So I said, yeah. Okay. That sounds good. Let's sit down and he invited me we had breakfast, he told me about it and invited me out to his office.
And next thing I know I'm working for this company Primerica. Well, The great part about this was Curt is an amazing person and an amazing man. You know, this is a person who was $30,000 in debt working in a factory. And the reason I share this, as he shows us with everyone, this is his story. But and living paycheck to paycheck, not knowing how he's gonna get ahead in life and Hector LeMarc a person who was one of the, I dunno, one of the senior level executives in the company now and has been for a long, long time, sat him down and said, what are you going to do? Is this, how are you going to live the rest of your life? [01:00:00] Let me teach you how to do this. Let me teach you how to help families.
And Kurt being the person that he is that's, that was his passion. He wanted to help families. He wanted to help his own family. And so he taught me a lot of things of just. Hey, the reason you will enjoy this one. You're young you're you got a good personality. You can make good money, but I can tell you how to help people.
You can help families. He said I've delivered 12. It was 12 at that time, I'm sure it's been a lot more 12 life insurance checks to a spouse that they would not have been able to make ends meet without it. I have provided investments for people that they were able to put their kids through college. And he just threw out that we read books together.
We, we, I learned about personalities. I learned sales and, and he taught me so much that it was a two-way street. A lot of the leadership principles that I learned from my parents and from my coaches, it was like, oh, well, yeah, I know how to do this. And I think [01:01:00] that's part of the reason he was attracted to me.
He's like you have this innate ability to sit down at a kitchen table. Somebody and go over their finances and understand this because you really have their best interests at heart, and you're going to try to sell them anything they don't want or need. And when I realized that, I think my time with Kurt is when my coaching career changed, because I realized I left soccer for about a full year and did this full time.
And I realized if I apply the lessons that Curt is teaching me and to put other people first and I'm like, oh wait, those are the same things that my parents were always saying. put the students first, put, put these people first and teach without, or educate or help without really wanting anything in return.
You're going to get in return tenfold. And so I'm hearing this from my parents. I'm hearing this from Kurt. All this has started and then, you know, [01:02:00] I'm not going to lie when I was in my mid twenties to late twenties. I had a lot of fun. I wanted to go out. I wanted to party. I wanted to stay out all night sleeping.
I coached in the evenings. I could do all this stuff. All these people got me back on the right track. And so it was a two-way street where I was learning from them, teaching all these things and realize that I love soccer. It got me back into it become, but I became so much better coach because now I became a college coach and all the sales, I learned the right sales techniques, not hard selling, not anything, just showing people what they want.
That helped me in my recruiting and just the personal interaction that helped me be a better individual coach. At times I looked at the big tactics and I forgot that these players weren't just pawns. They were actual people. And so all of that kind of [01:03:00] led into, and I'm a much better coach now because the person that Kurt was and taught me to be. Now Kurt's a family man. And he also happens to be a big soccer fan. So I think we got along really well there. And Phil you'll love this. He was a goalkeeper, he was one of the guys that would come out and he was our indoor goalkeeper for a long, long time plan w with our team.
So we had got, we got along that way and we remained friends because of that. But as I look back, that's how I've realized it doesn't matter if it's through soccer, through financial planning, through teaching, through coaching, everybody has the chance to make an impact on other people's lives.
And right now soccer has been my vehicle for the last 20 years. It's not going to be that vehicle forever. So. I'll take all these lessons and figure out how I can continue to impact people in their lives.
[01:03:49] Phil: Yeah. And that's a great segue into the last few questions here, but the first one is, and you know, I've started asking this over the last few interviews I've done with coaches.
And [01:04:00] so if you've listened to the last several episodes of the coaches, you've heard this question before, but what is the one thing that you hope that all of your players will understand and live out when they leave your University of Houston soccer program? Basically, if they haven't learned it from you, when they leave your program, you'll feel as if you failed them, what would that be?
[01:04:19] Diego: I think we have four core values that kind of encapsulate everything that we've been talking about today. You know, first one's positive mentality and that doesn't mean rainbows and butterflies. It means having the right attitude to show up to training every single day, show up to your academics and your relationships and just be.
Basically a growth mindset ready to get better as a person maximum effort, give your best in everything you do. We have a saying in my house, if you're going to do something, do it to the best of your ability and for my kids and their chore charts. If you sign your name that you did this chore, that means you did it to the best of your ability.
Because if I go in your bathroom, you said you cleaned it [01:05:00] and it's clean, but not really to the best of your ability. Okay. Then that's that doesn't work. So maximum effort, just give everything you do and your schooling and soccer and your relationships. And that'll carry over a really important one.
To me is be a good teammate. Be the servant, be the person that you can be, be the person that your teammates need you to be, not the person that you want to be put others first, and you will get more in return from everyone else. So be a good teammate. And then the last one is happy. We are meant to enjoy life.
We are meant to enjoy each other. So if they can take all the lessons that we take from those core values and take them into their lives, I think they'll lead successful and meaningful lives and they'll impact the people around them. So if they do that, the results from their jobs, from their finances, from the relationships, they'll come focus on the process, focus on all those [01:06:00] things.
And. I hammer on them all the time. So I'd be shocked if they don't leave with at least some of that. Yeah.
[01:06:08] Phil: Right. Yeah. Hopefully you bet higher than 500 on that one. But and similar question, I mean, you, you kind of talked a little bit about this. It's, it's a little D it's very different question, but it might have some of the same overlap here, but what lessons learned directly from the game of soccer have you used in your life and leadership in your marriage and parenting, you know, like the idea of retaliator it gets the red that you probably heard if you listened to my interview with Paul?
But things like that.
[01:06:32] Diego: Yeah. I think more than anything from soccer, I learned that there's so much that's out of our control. You know, one of my favorite quotes of all time is a Charles Swindoll quote, and it's a longer quote, but the end of the quote and the gist of it is life is 10% of your circumstances and 90%, how you react to them.
And soccer is [01:07:00] so unpredictable. It's so fluid as a coach, I'm not in control. As a player, I thought I was in control. I was in control of me, but I wasn't in control. So the change, the situations are always going to change your life. Situation is always going to change soccer. It's moving constant. There's so many moving parts, you know, 22 players on the field, three referees coaches, staff, medical.
There's so many moving parts and personalities out there. It's impossible to control everything, just like your life. You're never going to be able to control your bosses actions or your spouse or your kids. You can help them and build a relationships to help guide them. But those are out of your control.
The only thing that's in your control is you and how you respond to these situations. And so if we can take that out of soccer and apply that to life, I think it just gives you a lot more peace of mind knowing that you're really not in control of anything other than how you react to the situations that you're in.
[01:07:59] Phil: I talk [01:08:00] about that all the time. With people just, you can't make anyone do anything. No. You can have consequences for not doing something. If the kids are with other people and that your leader over, but you can't make them do anything, they can choose not to. You can kick them off the team, but you can't make them do that thing.
Correct. Right. And so it's going back to the influence and leadership is influencing. And the fact that you've talked about those core values, like those are things that you have to choose, you have to opt in. And same thing with everything. I love that. I love that. And I think it's so, so important.
Even talk about your dad. I loved how he did that. I mean, that's a, that's a teacher, if I've ever heard it. Right. Like you're just a leader, like you said, it's, it's just a leader. Like. You, you don't have to go out and do this, but if you want me to play, then you got to hit the free throws. Now I will have to say though, going back to that, your bar of shooting free throws better than an NBA player may be a pretty low bar.
Cause that's, that's not as good as it used to be. Right. So just throwing that out
[01:08:57] Diego: there. I know I can beat [01:09:00] Shaq at a free throw contest.
[01:09:03] Phil: So anyway, anyway, no, I love that. I love that. That last thing again, these are things that I continually take and learn and add to my my repertoire as I'm talking with my players as well, which is really cool.
All right. So, last question. I've always, you know, it's always a bittersweet feeling to finish these interviews because I want to go on and off, but I have no doubt. We'll have more conversations. We'll get you on at some other time after you've launched your podcast. And we can talk about how that's impacting lives too.
And at some other time, hopefully you'll be able to come back on here and you'll do another interview. But what have you read listened to, or watch that has most impacted your thinking on how soccer explain life and leadership?
[01:09:40] Diego: Yeah. As you know, I'm a bit of a nerd. And so I read quite a bit and I don't always read just soccer books.
But you know, listening to just, there's so many soccer podcasts out there, but I, I prefer reading books about it the mind and mentality, like I said, I always [01:10:00] recommend Mindset by Carol Dweck because it can make you a better person, coach, teacher, just understanding how the mind works a little bit. I know you've probably had every coach talk about legacy on here.
But books like Grit by Angela Duckworth, Drive by Daniel pink. Shoot, just turn around. Look behind me. Oh, Toughness by Jay Bilas, I really liked that book. It's just a, kind of a, a raw look at, at what he had read books from coach K to, sir Alex Ferguson. Just, it really doesn't matter if you just take the time and read them, digest them, take something out of each thing and apply it to you? I think one that probably hasn't been recommended is a book called Black Box Thinking. This is a really intriguing book to me. It was recommended to me by a parent of one of the, one of Lucas. Teammates parents and Black Box Thinking. It it's [01:11:00] exactly what it talks about. They look back and studied the black boxes of airplanes and how they crashed.
And. You can learn all kinds of things about leadership and culture and, and how sometimes the copilot knew that they were about to crash, but didn't say anything because the culture that they were in it, he was not allowed to speak to the captain. And had he spoken up, he would alert to the captain, they would have saved it, and none of them would have died. But in saying anything because of it until it was too late and there's just so many cool things.
And I think that's one, I don't remember the author. But it's probably a book that you've never been recommended. Black box thinking it's pretty good. Has not,
[01:11:39] Phil: and we'll find it. I will find it and put it in the show notes. So we'll get that author. You can also, I'm sure you can use this thing called Google if you're listening to this and you have a internet of the worldwide webs that we've heard about.
It's a, you can find that black box thinking. Yeah, I'm going to go check that out for sure. I love it. It reminds me of a, I think it was, it was a Gladwell book and I'm pretty [01:12:00] sure it was Blink, that he talked about that same thing as far as the. The pilots that it's, whether it's pride, whether it's, they don't want people, you know, eh, you know, it all kind of come down to pride.
If you're not going to say something, because you think that you might be stupid or you don't want to question the person above, it could be the opposite of, you know, we're just not confident that you think, oh, well, the pilot must understand something I don't or whatever, rather than just having that culture of openness, that culture of trust, that culture of vulnerability going back to any healthy leadership team, healthy team is that's part of it is that vulnerability to be able to, to have that healthy conflict, which could be that thing that could save your life and that instance, or could save the team could save the culture, could save something and at the lesser levels of our lives.
So now appreciate. Absolutely. So thanks again, Diego for I mean just who you are, man. I've, I've loved getting to know you over the last few months. I had [01:13:00] loved getting to know you more in the last hour and a half for that matter. And seeing that, and I love it. I absolutely love it. It's why I do what I do.
And I just want to thank you. And I look forward to seeing how this relationship bears more fruit for me and hopefully for, for others out there, whether on clubhouse, whether it's through podcasts, whether through just the different things we can do together in the future. So, thanks. Thanks for being who you are, man.
[01:13:22] Diego: No, I appreciate it. Thanks for the time Phil always enjoy our conversations.
[01:13:27] Phil: All right, folks. We'll thank you for being part of this. You know, I hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I did. And I hope that you are taking what you're learning and you're using it to help you be a better leader.
And, and again, engage with this conversation. Maybe even listen to it with a few of your other coaches, friends, different people with your spouses, with the people in your lives with your kids. I know a lot of parents have listened to this podcast on their way to games to learn our way home, or just going to practices or just going on road trips and talking yeah.
About it. Because that's why we do this. I know [01:14:00] it's why Diego does what he does and what he's doing with this new podcast. So use it in whatever way works for you, but also join us on Facebook group. Join us on Clubhouse, email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any ideas on how to make the show better, any guests, including yourself, if you think you'd be a good guest for this, I'd love to talk with you more about that.
And if nothing else get to know each other and how we can hopefully encourage each other and sharpen each other to be better coaches and better human beings. So folks with that, I just want to thank you again for joining us again this week. If you haven't done so already subscribe to the show and take everything that you're learning from the show to help you to not only be a better leader in your home, in your coaching and your parenting and everything you're doing, but also to help you understand how soccer really does explain life and leadership.
Thanks a lot. Have a great week.