Jan. 21, 2021

Know Your "Why" with Lee Baker of Legacy Soccer Club and uScore Soccer

Know Your

In Episode 13, Lee Baker, Owner of uScore Soccer and Director of Legacy Soccer Club, talks with Phil about overcoming hardships, knowing and sticking to your “why,” setting and pursuing goals, using soccer as a classroom for life and leadership,...

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In Episode 13, Lee Baker, Owner of uScore Soccer and Director of Legacy Soccer Club, talks with Phil about overcoming hardships, knowing and sticking to your “why,” setting and pursuing goals, using soccer as a classroom for life and leadership, modeling ethics and integrity, perspective, mentoring, and sacrificial living. Specifically, Lee discusses:

  • His story and how he developed his passion for soccer, leadership, and his journey to uScore and Legacy Soccer Club (1:48)
  • What Lee has learned about leadership through hardships, and how he has grown through difficult experiences (5:56)
  • The importance of mission, vision, and values to create clarity in your organization, goal-setting, and really knowing your “why” (12:35)
  • How uScore Soccer and Legacy Soccer Club are doing things differently and teaching his players life and leadership lessons through the game in their practices and “classroom” time (17:02)
  • How we can teach and model character, ethics, and integrity, and compete at the highest level in our soccer clubs and organizations (23:22)
  • How you can address parents and/or players who don’t agree with your organization’s mission, vision, and/or values (28:07)
  • The importance of perspective and learning from the best in class, other cultures, and other disciplines (33:22)
  • The benefits of mentoring in our organizations (38:46)
  • How Lee uses lessons he has learned from the beautiful game in his marriage, parenting, and other areas of life (40:44)
  • A fun conversation about a show that has impacted Lee’s thinking on how soccer explains life and leadership (43:39)

Resources and Links from this Episode


Phil:[00:00:00] Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thanks again for your download and being a part of the conversation today. We have another great guest with us. He is a man who has a lot of experience playing, coaching, directing clubs, and I'm just. as usual, you're getting, probably getting sick of me saying I'm excited for these guests,  but I truly am excited for this guest.

And that's Lee Baker. He's the owner of UScore Soccer, Director of Legacy Soccer Club. And before we get to Lee, I want to make sure that if you haven't done so already go ahead and subscribe to the show. Just hit that subscribe button, wherever you're listening. So that you don't miss any of our episodes.

And if you haven't done so already, also, if you could rate and review the show, that'd be very much appreciated. It would help get it heard by other people on that note. The best way for people to learn about the show is by you telling them about it. If you, if this is helping you. If these things are helping you, I have no doubt it will help other people that you know, whether they're in the soccer world or outside [00:01:00] the soccer world, hopefully these leadership principles are things that everyone can be learning from and using in their lives. So without more from me right now, I'm going to introduce to you Lee Baker, Lee, how you doing?

Lee:[00:01:11] Great Phil, I appreciate you having me on today.

Phil:[00:01:14] definitely. And, you know, we were able to have a conversation a couple of weeks ago just to get to know each other a little bit. and I'm excited. Like I said, to be able to share with our audience what we talked about and hopefully some new things that I haven't even learned and heard yet.

So before we get into the leadership lessons that we always are able to get into, I'd love for you to briefly share your story how you developed your passion for soccer, leadership, and your journey to where you are today.

Lee:[00:01:38] Yeah, absolutely. I was born into the game. My father was not, he actually grew up as a American football player, played football at Eastern Kentucky University.

Met my mother there, who was a cheerleader, and then they got married and then before they knew it, they were off from their honeymoon to Heidelberg, Germany. Where my father was [00:02:00] stationed in the Army. And he would go across the street and teach the locals how to play American football. And they taught him how to play European football.

And he spent several years over there, fell in love with the game, came back, continued to coach. He was also a basketball player in high school, continued to coach basketball in Kentucky, and also started to coach soccer there. And then the opportunity came up for him to take on a new program here in Houston, Texas in Northwest Houston at Klein High School.

He started the program there became a legend in this community for sure. Retired after about 28 years and was the winningest coach in Texas history when he retired. So that's a little bit about how I came involved with the game. Started playing at a very young age, became a member of the Texans Soccer Club when I was about nine and played for them all the way through. A guy named Roy Reese was the National Team coach at the time and was brought in to start the Texans soccer club. Had a great career there. I was fortunate to win a [00:03:00] national championship U 16  back when they had the different McGuire Cups and everything else, the Snickers Cup, all those things.

And so that was an awesome moment for us as players and as the team, and then went on, played at University of Kentucky. So went back to my roots. I was born in Kentucky and was fortunate to go back there, play soccer for the Wildcats. And then after that stayed on as a coach briefly, and then had the opportunity to come back as the assistant director for the Texans Soccer Club that I played for under Ken Fogert y, who coached with Kansas City Wizards was a big time pro himself played in the NASL for Fort Lauderdale Strikers, unbelievable career that he's had. And so I came back, assisted him briefly, and then before I knew it took over as the director of the club at a pretty young age and was able to be the Executive Director with the Texans Soccer Club for a couple of almost decades.

So about 18 years there, I started UScore Soccer with my brother here in this community. Again, we grew up in kind of the Klein area [00:04:00] kind of near The Woodlands here in Northwest Houston, started at an indoor center, started in an outdoor league while I was continuing to oversee the Texans Soccer Club.

And then, we had a really tough situation where we had an embezzlement situation happened with the Texans Soccer Club. And after about a year of trying to pour back into that and get things right, I resigned and then the club ended up combining with another club here in the area. And then I moved on full-time with UScore Soccer, and then recently started the Legacy Soccer Club, which is the nonprofit competitive program here in North West Houston as well. So that's a little bit of the background of me and the game. I just, I love what you guys are doing, and I'm always a fan of how we can use soccer as a vehicle to teach life lessons. I think it's an incredible platform for not only young players, but for parents, for coaches to really apply what we see on the field and use that off the field. And I think it's certainly a term that's probably overused in terms of using [00:05:00] life lessons. And I think what we're trying to do at Legacy hopefully is real is tangible, is something that, players and families can really apply.

So super excited to be on with you and, talk about leadership.

Phil:[00:05:10] Yeah, we'll, get into all those things that you just talked about. and I, want to start not necessarily at the beginning, but I want to start on the side of it where you learned a lot of lessons, maybe from things that people wouldn't really want to go through, and so I just love to talk and start with what you've learned about life and leadership through your experiences that you have learned. Maybe through some hardships, whether it's in your leadership of the club that you just talked about, had some embezzlement, had some other issues . really the good, bad, and the ugly of what you've learned and the leadership lessons that have come out of that, that you think others can learn from as well.

Lee:[00:05:46] Absolutely. I think Phil, one thing that I'm reminded of all the time is I've been extremely blessed in my life with very few tragedies. You know, I've got, healthy parents who are married. I've got an incredible [00:06:00] wife three incredible. Kids. And I've really had an incredible journey all the way through to where I am now.

And so, three or four years ago when that embezzlement happened, it was kind of the first real moment in my life where you just had to really kind of. It has some, a really incredible soul full searching moments to look at, the why it happened, how did we get to that point? And there's definitely some victim mentality that happens right away with what I went through and I had a great group of friends. Jim Spence, who you know runs Sports Quest Ministries here, he and I started meeting weekly at that time, just to going through some things with the Bible and, what I was learning and what I was journaling. I had some incredible late nights with my wife where she's always tried to see the best in people.

And I wanted to make sure I didn't go the other route of starting to be too guarded because I've always valued relationships and I've always. been really ready to trust people and entrust things to people. So I really had to get to the point. And a lot of it happened [00:07:00] within the last year.

Phil. When you look at what happened with the pandemic and being isolated a bit. Being quarantined a bit. You know, I took on even more of a, time where I would go out on my own. Just as Jesus did and went out to the wilderness a little bit, went on a lot of runs with a lot of podcasts.

Had a lot of time reading and really got to the point where I was like, you know what? I need to stop claiming that I was a victim here that I need to take ownership responsibility. And the reality is the Texans Soccer Club was a great club, was a fantastic organization that impacted a lot of people.

We've had players go on and play in the English Premier League. Play in the World Cup. We've won several national championships, USYS and the DA. And, I had an incredible staff, great supportive friends that I've worked alongside of, and, had former players that I've been to their weddings now coaching a lot of their kids.

So there's definitely a ton of positives that happened through that. But also I have to look at it and say, you know what? There was a mission and there was something that we were heading towards and certainly [00:08:00] a big part of that was impacting young people on and off the field. But as you get going, you have a lot of different voices that come into play.

You start kind of losing track and going on this path and mass path of, do we do a girls club? do we Clore that to the Developmental Academy or what about the ECNL and you have so many different voices and different ways you can go about things that I think we became a very big organization.

We probably lost a lot of the intimacy that I've always valued in my life. I was a big fan of Young Life growing up. That's actually where I became believer in Jesus back in high school. And, they value relationships and earning the right to be heard and pouring into people. And when we became so big, we probably scaled too quickly.

We developed a lot of campuses and not every campus looked the same. so for me, it's important to take a look back and, to be vulnerable and to be humble and to say, here's where we went wrong, Again, we did some great things and I have great relationships with a lot of those people, but I felt like, with UScore, and what we're doing there. we started with an indoor center before we knew it. We had an outdoor league [00:09:00] that kinda fell to us there. And we went from 80 kids to 1400 kids in our outdoor league program. We have a great indoor center where we're doing classes and private training and impacting kids there.

And then the Legacy Program just kinda came with having a lot of players in the grassroots of soccer, which I'm so glad to be more attached to in the last couple of years, but we've had a lot of great families that just really wanted to continue with what we were doing, but get a little bit more in terms of the competitive side without, Selling their souls to soccer and all of their time and their calendar and their money into that.

So we feel like we found a good balance with Legacy and  I feel like I'm getting a second chance, you know, it's a beautiful thing. And I think everyone in life is going to have moments Where they mess up and they need grace. And they need just new perspective and new opportunities.

And I feel like now we've had a lot of staff that came on board with Legacy that were with me with the Texans, because we're very like-minded and wanting to impact kids and want it to impact families. And that they believe in that mission. And I feel like it's my responsibility to use what I've learned [00:10:00] as a leader and realize that I'm big on.

I feel like for me personally and professionally, the lid that I have is, is the lid that I give myself. If I don't try to, grow that lid, if I'm not learning, if I'm not trying, different things in terms of leadership and learning how to delegate better and self-evaluating, and, planning my week properly and managing my time properly.

So I just feel like I have a great second chance now to to do some things that maybe aren't so much focused on success. But a lot more on significance. And I think that, we can define success in a lot of ways on the field and off the field. For me, I really want this second half of my coaching career to be more about how can I be significant.

How can I make those that are around me, the players, the staff more significant as well, and make sure that they're going after their calling, not so much their career. And I feel so fortunate that I get to do what I do and, certainly want to do it for a very long

Phil:[00:10:55] time.

Yeah, that's fantastic. I think that's something that you said a lot of things [00:11:00] there that I definitely want to mine and we'll get into to several of them, but The one thing that I want to first talk about there is, you talked about a few things there with the mission, vision, like your mission, vision values that you have.

And you said you started drifting from that as you got bigger, as you couldn't scale that mission that you had originally with the organization. But then I think When things went sideways a bit with the embezzlement, as you said, you can very easily go into that victim mentality and blame that that may have been a symptom of that mission drift of that drifting from where you were. It could also just be one bad actor. Yes. But if you are able to take that step back and go, and this is where the really the leadership principle comes in, how am I responsible? What is my responsibility in this? What have I done wrong? What can we do different and how can we learn from this and move on?

And yes, there is somebody that they need responsibility to, but this goes from our homes to [00:12:00] our organizations, to soccer, to really any area of life is what did you do wrong? And what can you take responsibility for in this? And so as you started, UScore, as you started this new organization, what did that look like as you started this new venture with creating that mission vision values, and how do you protect that now versus what you saw with 20/20 hindsight with the, club?

Lee:[00:12:25] Well, I think Phil, what it has reminded me of is, continuing to ask the question of why, so why, why am I doing this? Why did we start this club? Why are we forming these teams and continue to ask that question over and over again?

And so we get to the heart of what we're doing and then to create that mission statement to provide clarity for everyone that's on board. If I'm not as a leader, providing clarity of where we're going, then not only am I getting off track, but those other voices that come in and say, well, what about this?

Or. What about that? Or what about this location? What [00:13:00] about, we go after this sponsor what if we do this tournament, you just, you always have to go back and say, well, does that, does that align with our mission? The people that we bring on board. Finding out what their goals are. if their goal is to come on board at a nonprofit soccer organization and eventually become a millionaire, it may not line up with what we're doing and where we're going.

So getting everybody moving in the same direction and not losing track of that focus. And in college, Phil, I was in a major car wreck when I was driving home from University of Kentucky and flipped the Jeep four times on the highway. Should not have survived actually a few months before that Rich Mullins, the great singer songwriter the Christian industry flipped the Jeep and was killed.

And laying in the hospital. I was thinking, gosh, why, you know, why, why, why did that happen to him? But why am I still here? I've got a big scar on my left arm. That reminds me of the grace. Ironically, my, my wife just got her first tattoo that says by grace on her arm. So [00:14:00] it's kind of funny that we both have that on our left arm to remind us.

Of what grace is, but, I think when I got distracted in that car wreck, I lost the why. I mean, I wasn't alone in the car and my responsibilities should have been getting us to the destination safely that that's obviously, what should have been my focus at that time.

And when I looked down too long and got distracted Put people in danger and myself as well. And I think that again, now that we're starting something new, I have to look at different examples of what's happened. Even the analogy of the car wreck and say, you know what? I've got to stay focused.

I've got to make sure that I'm not the only one in the car that is going, where we want to go. That I surround myself with people who are smarter than I am. And a lot of areas that I evaluate where my strengths are, where my weaknesses are. I just hired another administrator that is much more organized than I could ever be and frees me up to be able to do things that I feel like God has gifted me in.

And I feel like I've got some, [00:15:00] some talents and some time if I've been blessed with that is important for me to make sure that I'm maximizing that. So again, just excited  for that opportunity. And I think I've always loved leadership. I was a field goal kicker, in high school, I loved to be in the, kind of the hero or the goat.

You know, if we went into penalties in soccer, I wanted the ball first. I wanted to take the first PK and I just kind of a little bit probably of my inner nature of being. a little bit arrogant, I'm sure. And a little bit, maybe over confident,  But I just kind of love to lead. I love to, to be in the front and take the arrows first, if I need to, I just feel like that's how God's equipped me And hopefully I'll do that in a much wiser way, this time around.

Phil:[00:15:39] Yeah. and as you say that we've alluded to doing things a bit differently and that your mission, vision, values is that you have set it up with the Legacy Soccer Club, with the UScore facility. And, you know, it's something that for folks we're not going to go into the, nitty gritty of mission vision values in this episode, as we did, if you want that [00:16:00] Matt Parker episode, it was I believe.

I'm going to get the episode number wrong, but it's a few episodes ago and you can go check out Matt Parker's interview. He's a director of a nonprofit, and he talked about that mission, vision values and the importance of that. And if you don't, if you don't know what we're talking about, go back and listen to that episode.

It's really good. It also points to other resources out there that are phenomenal, but we've alluded to the fact that the Legacy club that you now are, the director of is doing things a bit differently than you see in a lot of the clubs out there. I'm not gonna say nobody else is doing it.

Cause there are clubs that are doing it, but can you get into some of those things and, really the why? you've talked a little bit about the why, but the things that you're doing that are a bit different and the. Really you're teaching some of these life lessons through the game.

And I'd love to, for you to be able to talk about some of those specific lessons that you're able to teach to the kids using the game itself.

Lee:[00:16:52] Well, as you mentioned, Phil, there's a lot of people doing some great things and I have very few original ideas and the internet a huge blessing for all [00:17:00] of us to be able to, navigate and see some great things that are going on.

And we genuinely believe that a rising tide raises all ships. We try to act like that in our community. And if, if we continue to get better and that makes. Someone else a bit better, then soccer wins. Kids win. Family wins with options that they have. So, I think, love saying that you love someone and acting like you love someone are two different things.

Obviously, your love is based on those actions. And I, I feel it's similar with. Preaching about, Hey, we're doing things differently. Hey, we're separated because of this or that. Or, you should join our organization because we believe in this, but you actually have to put it into practice.

And so for example, with us, we want players and families that are not just full full-fledged, soccer, soccer, soccer. Now if we have players, and I think we will have plenty of players that, that grow through our program that do great things on the field. Maybe become professional players as we've had when I've been running organizations in the past.

But the goal for us is [00:18:00] genuinely to make sure that soccer is fun. Number one, that it's less stressful for families and that we are using soccer as a being able to teach life lessons. So for example, most programs in our area do three nights a week of 90 minutes sessions. And in our Northwest Houston community, that means a lot of time in the car as well.

A lot of driving, lots of, I mean, it's just lots of traffic, lots of getting there. So for us, we do two sessions a week that are two hours long. We include 30 minutes of what we call our Legacy learning time. And we include 30 minutes of sports performance, with, and without the soccer ball as well.

So in our Legacy learning time, for example, Phil, this past fall, we started the year with, with going over zonal defending and pressure cover and balance, and the principles on the field, it took about a month to go through those things. But in the meantime, not only were we teaching. The right ways to play in a, in a zonal back four or a zonal back three, depending on the system.

We also took players into the classroom and, we talked [00:19:00] to them about maybe the pressures they were feeling at that time. And we're in the middle of a pandemic. And to have young players literally break down and talk about some of the pressures they were feeling with, learning at home and dad losing his job.

Having to sacrifice certain things because of the financial situation their family was in, to move on, to balance for them to talk about how they are learning, how to balance things on and off the field to go into cover the next week and talk about how they can help cover for a mom. Who's had to now, go back to work, to help the family out.

And they're helping with their younger brother. I mean, those are real legitimate situations that. As a staff, we feel great about that that not only are we teaching things on the field, but that they're going to have a lot of memories. And lessons learned that hopefully go into there that our marriages, their careers, their educational pursuits, or their professional soccer careers, but that we are equipping them to be ready for what lies ahead. Right now in January, [00:20:00] our topic for the next three weeks is on goal scoring and goal setting. So off the field we are talking about, then they turned in their sheets over the last couple of days and we're teaching them how to set goals that are not just, well, I want to be a better soccer player. Yeah, well, no, when you set goals, you have to be specific.

You have to be able to measure that you have to be able to be timely and the way that you follow through with that. so there's a lot of things that we're teaching them that I think hopefully will stick with them. And, and we also have to lead by example, Phil. I mean, I've, I've met with our

staff over the last couple of weeks. And I have several more meetings to have with individual leaders in our club and within our organization where I'm going through them my journal that I use on these are the goals that I have. These are my goals, socially. These are my goals spiritually. These are my goals financially, physically.

What are your goals as a staff member and how can I, as a leader help you achieve those goals? And then now go do that with your players, go do that with your teams. And hopefully we're creating a [00:21:00] culture. I know you're huge on culture and I'm big on culture, obviously. You and I have both being Man United fans, see the importance of what culture can do and how it can destroy things as well.

So for us, again, we feel like we're trying to do some things a bit different. And again we're not original on, probably most of, but we certainly are trying to implement it. And I think that the families that we have involved really appreciate and really feel like they're getting some value of beyond just, Hey, my, child is improving technically and tactically and physically and mentally, but they are also being equipped to be a great young person moving forward.

Phil:[00:21:37] I, I can't tell you how much I love that. I mean, we're dozen episodes or so into this as we're recording. And if you don't know already, basically, you're, speaking my love language with what you just talked about there, where you're teaching the life lessons and skills through the game, that's what this podcast is about.

And I absolutely love seeing how you're putting it into action and not just [00:22:00] talking about it. As you said, it's easy to talk about it and say, you're all about character and ethics and everything. It's another thing to live it out. So I just want to encourage you with that and say, keep running the race, my brother.

the other thing I want to point out too, as we've talked about, and again, I know this just cause we've talked about it a little bit, but you're teaching these life lessons. You're teaching leadership lessons, you're teaching goal setting, you're teaching covering and all these other things, but you're also teaching ethics.

which is something that as we go into our culture today, we unfortunately see, I mean, you saw it in the last club, you were a part of, right. Ethics. If ethics were something that were instilled in that, in that woman, she would not have embezzled money. and so when you look at these things with these kids to say, Soccer is a place you can learn how to be, yes, a driven person.

Who's going to be able to set and achieve goals. It's going to be able to help your family, but it's also going to help you be a person of character and integrity. And so how have you shown that? What are some examples of that maybe as you're, training them up and not to say you weren't doing this in the past club, but just really [00:23:00] intentionally where you're showing that ethics and character and integrity are really what you care about at the end of the day, other than maybe the score on the scoreboard, which you care about as well. But you know what I mean?

Lee:[00:23:12] Yeah, I think you can do both. I think you can achieve excellence and be competitive and want to win games while also going about it the right way.

I mean, we've had opportunities as coaches and leaders with a lot of people watching. And again, even in that moment, you're able to. remind your kids. You never know who's watching, but we'd certainly had the moments to, there's plenty of examples we can use where the ball just goes over the line, right in front of you as a coach, you're right there.

And maybe it's a day where a linesman on the way to the game, a second official in the way that the game had a flat tire, didn't get there. And you have two officials and you and the other coach are a little bit more responsible to be honest about what's going on on that sideline, if the ball went out or not.

And so I think that right there in that moment, you've got players who see that the [00:24:00] ball went out, you know, it went out and you have that brief moment to be able to say, referee that was out. And it was out on us, their ball, their throw. And, it's just a little thing. And we had a moment where, a while back a ball was shot and he went through a hole in the net.

I clearly saw that the other team scored a goal. It went through the hole in the net. The referee gave a goal kick. The other coaches went nuts that it went in. It was a massive, important game. I could have easily sat there, and bit my lip and, got out there with a victory. But instead have to say something.

And I think that, again, those, kids are watching us. The parents ultimately appreciate it that they're around people that they can trust and are gonna instill and do the right things. And obviously as a believer, I know God's always watching, those moments, but I think even just as a.

whatever people believe and whatever faith backgrounds people come from that we have a responsibility and we see it in our culture right now. I mean, I think everybody can agree that there's a massive lack of leadership in a lot of different realms and hopefully we're training up new leaders and  [00:25:00] having players and young people that have empathy, that, have humility, that they don't all, don't always have to be right all the time, but we'll always kind of check their hearts and check themselves and put their head on their pillow at night.

And that's one thing my mom and dad always talked to me and he taught me, you know, can you put your head on your pillow and know that you're going to have a good conscience when you go to sleep that you said and did the right things is Phil, to be honest some of the things that have happened over the last couple of years,  we were a massive club in South Texas and had a great name throughout the entire country.

So obviously being the executive director when things went South was tough. And I was. That was the executive director for a long time when things went well. I was a player when things went well, I probably would have died wearing a Texans Jersey with my playing and coaching and directing back down to that club.

So it was extremely humbling time, extremely hard time. And but again, you just have to move on in life. Life is too short. And just continue to try to use the lessons that you've learned in the experiences you've learned to pass onto these younger players and some of the letters and stories [00:26:00] I received from former players about things that have happened in training or little moments off the field or how I acted to a waiter on the road.

how I handled the situation at the front desk at the hotel. I mean, they're always watching man. And, and you know that, hopefully as coaches we will take more responsibility. We're not going to be. replacement parents. We've got a lot of families that only have a mother or only have a father, and it's not our job to replace that, but there are certainly a lot of moments where we can step in and fill that role to the degree that we can.

Phil:[00:26:31] Definitely something that I 100% agree with. And, we know it with, if you have kids, you know, your kids are watching whether they say it or not, whether they talk about it or not, you know, I have a 19 year old now and she says things now to me that I go, yep. She was actually listening when she didn't seem like she was listening as a teenager, you know?

And so it doesn't always come back. You don't always know you don't always hear it and get that, those little nuggets that, that tell you, okay. we didn't. Completely waste our time. But especially when you're coaching, they're watching you, when you're parenting, they're [00:27:00] watching you, when you're leading, they're watching you and they know your weaknesses.

And so when you show them, you know, your weaknesses, then they like that. But also they need to see that you're a man of character, a woman of character integrity. but here's the other side of that coin, the importance, as we talked about creating mission, vision, values for a club, the importance of knowing who you are, the importance of sticking to it.

But with that comes not everyone's a fit for that, right? Not everyone will like what you're doing. Not everyone will like that you told that referee, that, that ball went through the hole in the net. And you lost that game or you tied the game and maybe you didn't go on in the tournament or whatever it may be that, you know, that's more important than that short term result is, is way less important than that.

Long-term implication of a decision that may not have shown that integrity, but not everyone's going to like that because maybe the parent, maybe the kid, whatever. So how do you handle that? How do you do that as a leader? How are you able to move forward with that understanding? I

Lee:[00:27:57] think it's a great question, Phil, because it's a balance, right?

[00:28:00] It's a balance of how are you inclusive to people that want to be a part of something that you're doing something special. So whether it's, at UScore with our grassroots recreational program or with what we're doing with the Legacy competitive program, we wanna, we want to welcome families.

And we think that our growth is a product of having, something that's attractive, something that's valuable for people to come and be a part of, but yet you're also trying to create a culture. And I've always said, and youth soccer you marry the whole family. So it's not only the child that you're bringing into them.

We've all been there as coaches. You've got a great sweet kid. That's just, really maybe shy and but just hard working and a great fit for the team. And then you might have a mom or a dad that's on the sideline. That is a problem in some different areas and can drag the culture down and could give the team a bad reputation in the area can give the coach a lot of headaches and trying to teach. And so it, it is a very tough balance of dealing with that. And, I think that ultimately [00:29:00] what we try to do is make sure that we stick with what is most important to us. What is the greater good of what we're trying to do and what aligns and what doesn't, and it's not black and white, that, it's just not, you have to handle each situation differently.

But if there is a player, for example, that just eats lives, breathes it  wants, more of it and we're in a moment where, Hey, no it's the off season right now, Phil, we've got a couple of Legacy teams that are playing basketball and we've signed them up for the winter league and they were the Legacy stuff and we have Legacy staff coaching and we're playing five v five basketball and we're using every element of soccer principles to teach them on the field or on the court. There you go. There's a little slip right there of how we're coaching. But we think it's great and we love seeing them smile And we've lost several, several games but they're learning a different approach to sport.

But if we have a kid that kind of, or a parent or family that frowns at that and says, Hey, I know it's the all season, but this is when champions are made. And, they need to be training four nights a week. Then we have the right [00:30:00] conversation at the right time and the right way.

And then we try to champion the moment too and say, Hey, this player was with us for, Three or four seasons did a great job and now they're moving on and we're wishing them absolutely the best. ed you the game last night, Phil where a girl from the team we were playing against was with us several years ago and moved on.

I mean, when you have 1500 players, you're not going to get everything right. She moved on. And I saw her on the other side of the field during the warmup. Went right up and forgot it was COVID for a minute and gave her a hug. and I think her mom was, smiling on the other side of the indoor glass on the field that we were playing on.

And I just think that, a lot of me has changed Phil over many years. That wasn't me. I'm 42. When I was 22, I was probably a much different person looking across at a player that may have left us and go on. Watch us put 10 goals past them, I'm going to show them they shouldn't have left.

And it's just obviously the wrong approach, the wrong mentality in order to have a peace in your life and a joy in your life and a genuine, kind of belief in wanting the best for everyone, whether they, have moved on from your organization or not. So it's just [00:31:00] sticking with that why sticking with that mission and keeping that with, the same with hiring staff and, just always saying, okay,  does this go along with our values?

Phil:[00:31:07] a lot of this comes down to just perspective. what is your perspective? Is your perspective in this kind of myopic soccer is everything world? And we're going to learn everything on the field and we're just going to learn tactics and we're going to learn the moves and we're going to learn, you're going to juggle.

You're going to have great first touch. You're going to have this or that and go, no, there's actually a lot to learn outside this game that can help in the game. My son played basketball. And he got way quicker. He's a holding midfielder and he got way quicker because he couldn't take that time to decide and just kind of lollygag on the bike.

You can't do that in a lot of the soccer either, but sometimes you have, you definitely have more time in soccer generally as a rule than in basketball to make a decision and what to do. And so you could see the difference on the field. And I think the same goes for just life is we can learn from other disciplines in the work that we're doing in [00:32:00] whatever we're doing. So the non, for a nonprofit, you better be learning from the for-profit world in what excellence means. In soccer, you better be learning from other people. I'm going to have in a couple of episodes and it may have already happened.

But as far as interviewing a field hockey referee who wrote a book on baseball, because we can learn a lot from him in our coaching in our leading in everything that we're doing. And so I think that, what you just talked about there is so important, and I don't want people to miss it because, you're not taking that kind of forest view of it, but it really does come down to a perspective. Knowing who you are.

Knowing what's important to you. And really that long-term, as you talked early on in this interview about goal setting, that your goal is not, yeah, you have some short-term goals, but you also have those longterm goals that time bound, you have a longer horizon out there on some of your goals and keeping all of those in mind at the same time, because if you don't have those and you don't have them written down and you don't know that as, as you said, you marry the whole family in soccer.

An organization, like [00:33:00] soccer, is only as strong as its weakest link as well, because that weakest link will be shining and representing that organization. what do you think about that? I mean, do you agree with that? do you disagree or do you have a take on that, that you've learned or any stories that you might have?

Lee:[00:33:12] Yeah, I do. I think you mentioned the word perspective and I think that as leaders it's important for us to have experiences so we can provide perspective. I've been fortunate that I was able to spend, a week at Carrington on the Man United training grounds to watch those players that are U 12, U 14 train.

And what a difference in my perspective, leaving that was probably a dozen years ago, but coming home and saying. No the best 12 and 13 year old boys in the world that are training at Man United, they're smiling while they train. They dance when they put a ball into the top corner, like it's okay.

And they don't have to run when they lose, because they're so competitive that they enjoy their soccer, but they don't want to lose. So over here in America, gosh, we hear it all the time. Losers run. [00:34:00] Well, losers, get on the line. Over there, in the training that I watched it's much different where they just, are naturally wanting to be great.

And then enjoying their soccer while they're, striving for greatness. spent some time and took a team over to the MC over in Spain and we played Barcelona's U12 team, it's the first time Phil I've ever looked at a team and a locker room before the game and said, Hey, you're not going to win.

But let's have perspective on why we came and what we're here to do. I mean, I had seen them play. We were fortunate. We had won two games in the group. We got smacked by Ajax in the third game. And then, so drew Barcelona in the quarter finals and, we didn't take over the greatest team in the world.

We took a team that was available at local youth club team, and we're playing FC Barcelona and we're playing the little 11 year old Messi in that spot and the Ineista in that spot, I mean, you could see it out there. And we lost by double digits, but it was the perspective that I gained over there and that the kids brought back to say, you know what? I am a very good 11 year old in Northwest Houston, but [00:35:00] there's a bigger world out there and there's a lot of better players out there. I was able to go to Haiti, about 18 months ago before the pandemic and spend some time with Core Luv and an orphanage down there.

And then seeing a much different side of soccer than what I saw at Man United training grounds. When you're on dirt fields and when you're at an orphanage and the, soccer ball has zero air in it. And you're down with other coaches and players and you're seeing this, you get a different perspective.

So for me, it's my responsibility to come back and tell parents, Hey, look, number one. In my experiences in Spain or, some of these higher level clubs in the world, your child may be not as good as you think they are and it's my job to give you some reality perspective.

And then on the other side of the coin, it's to sit in a room of young players and say, Hey, I know  that field out there a little bit worn down after two months and not every blade of grass is where you want it to be. but let's have perspective here. Let's take a look at some of these photos down in Haiti, and then, as soon as this pandemic ends, let's have some, you come down there and gain a little bit more perspective on the joy of [00:36:00] playing on.

The blessings that we have of being able to put on soccer, cleats, new ones at that about every three months that our parents can buy us. There's a different world out there. So, having perspective as a leader and again, being responsible to that and accepting that and not passing on I think we can be a bit lazy at times or be a bit selfish at times and the reality is who's been given much, it's required much. So I think it's up to us as leaders. If we've had experiences in the game, if we've been blessed to play at certain levels and coach at certain levels. That it's our job to educate these young parents with perspective though.  With the right perspective that that there's a bigger thing going on.

Phil:[00:36:42] and that's just it, I mean, I love what you're teaching at Legacy. And I think even the name it's very intentional. I'm assuming it's intentional. I'm assuming it's not just

Lee:[00:36:50] random.  We felt like. when players move on from Legacy, we genuinely want them to look back and see how they created a culture, how they [00:37:00] mentored younger players maybe how they can come back and continue to pour in as parents or staff members. So, we're super excited and, appreciate you giving us this time to talk about it.

Phil:[00:37:11] Definitely. And you just said something there that I think is a point that we haven't talked about, but it goes back to some of the real benefits.

I know that you work with some homeschooled kids and things like that, but what you don't see today is really the one room schoolhouse that we used to see back in the day. That the older kids are able to mentor the younger kids. And that's something that I would love to see more of in clubs is intentional, not just kind of one off a kid like saying, Oh, the little kid looking up to the guy, but actually having intentionality in the older kids, whether it's helping to coach, whether it's where you assigned different mentors to the little kids or whatever, but then that way it does become a family. It becomes a lot more intentional where you own the club and it's not just your team, but you take ownership of the club as a whole. And talk about Legacy. Talk about staying [00:38:00] involved.

Talk about really seeing how you are impacting are able to impact the value of mentorship. All these other things. That's just, a little soap box I just got on cause you said that and it really clicked in me. And I see that cause I have, five kids in my house and I even just see how my nine year old looks up to my 17 year old, whether my 17 year old likes it or not, whether he tries or not, whether whatever his nine-year-old little brother's gonna look up to him and so he better, I say, I told my 17 year old, you better be doing good. But I think in the clubs that could be part of our ethics, integrity, character, training too is, Hey, these little kids are watching you and what you're doing,

Lee:[00:38:36] right? Yeah. We've got our U-14 teams or U-16 teams. they get opportunities and they take advantage of them and those, kids that are doing that, I think they're realizing a lot of times they're the ones that are impacted more when they're out there with our three and four year olds or five and six year olds.

And, I've got kids about the same age as you Phil. I mean, I love it when my nine year old is working with three-year-olds. It's hilarious. And it's awesome. [00:39:00] And she takes so much joy and the three-year-olds look at my nine-year-old like she's an adult cause she is to them. Same with my, 12 year old son working with the six year old boys, like in the way that they look at him, like my 15 year old daughter doing the same thing with 11 year old girls, it's an opportunity that we don't want to miss.

And I think that actions are just the best form of leadership, we can use words to actually have players buy into it and commit to it and get out there and volunteer and get themselves involved. They're just creating incredible moments for themselves and also for these young players.

So I completely agree. That's a huge part in giving back to the game.

Phil:[00:39:35] that was great. The word you used to use there. I think folks, if you just see this as an opportunity and not as another thing you have to do. But you see it as a get to, and you see it as an opportunity to be able to help your players just really thrive and flourish at that next level as human beings.

Man, I think it can change everything. And I look forward to seeing what The kids that are coming out of your program, the things that they're doing, whether [00:40:00] it's on the field or off the field, I have no doubt they're going to be leaders. And that's just fantastic. So like I said, keep it up, keep it up.

So we're going to go into our last couple of questions here. And I mean, we talked about a lot of this, but I want to hear if there's anything else In your home. We have this question we ask, and I know a lot of people are already looking forward to hearing what our guests have to say about this, but how have you used the lessons you've learned directly from the beautiful game, from the game of soccer in your marriage and parenting, and really any other relationships if it's outside of that, but hopefully in your marriage and parenting in your home, what are some things from the game directly?

That you've

Lee:[00:40:34] used. I think of a couple of things Phil I think, just sacrificing for the greater good when you get married, when you become a father, that there's going to be moments where you'd love nothing else to wake up and just watch EPL games for six straight hours.

And, and sometimes, well, I'll say very, very rarely does that ever happen because you've got responsibilities that come with being married them, what come with being a father and you've got to make those sacrifices. [00:41:00] When I was a used 16 player we went to the national championships in Blaine, Minnesota.

And before we left, our goalkeeper was suspended, long story short, but he got suspended and we got to Minnesota and we had goalkeeper trials, basically two or three of us. And, I was an attacking midfielder at the time. And. Ended up saying, you know what, I'll play. And we ended up winning a national championship.

We had some incredibly talented players, so it had nothing to do with my goalkeeping abilities at all. But certainly with the, another moment .  okay. It's not about me. It's about the team and that comes into our marriage all the time. I think that. Another one that comes to mind is just being present and being focused. On the field, you click off for a second at, during a game and especially during transition moments and before you know it, your teams, getting the ball out of the back of the net because of your lack of focus.

And I think our world right now, With the screen time and the phones and, everything that is going on with Twitter and social media. And I think it's very easy to not [00:42:00] be present and it's so easy to be distracted. And, I know there's nothing I love more than going out with my wife on a date night and putting the phone away completely and just being present and, soccer can teach a lot of those

types of life lessons. I think that, having humility, going into some soccer games where you thought you were going to take care of business and you end up not being quite as smart as you thought you were as a coach, or maybe not as athletic as you thought you were as a player and you end up on the other side of it.

And I think that happens in marriages as well, where you think you've got something figured out and you have to humble yourself and say that, you know what? I got that wrong. That I really thought that I Had everything figured out going into that game, tactically, everything else, same thing with going into marriage that it's constantly looking at it and learning and certainly, being a parent that's one of the more humbling things I've ever done.

And it takes a lot of focus, a lot of time, and I'm blessed to have three amazing, kids, but it's definitely always keeping you on your toes and certainly soccer has a lot [00:43:00] of opportunities to take some of those different tools and say, how can I use this as a father, a husband, a business leader, a director, a youth leader, a teacher. There's just so many opportunities to use those life lessons.

Phil:[00:43:14] Man. I, wish we could go on and on because there's so much I know we can talk about, but we are at our last question and here it is, what have you read, watched or listened to recently that has impacted your thinking on how soccer explains life and leadership?

Lee:[00:43:29] Oh, man. Well, Phil, I might shock you with this one, but have you seen Ted Lasso?

Phil:[00:43:34] I was going to ask if you watched it, but Yeah, I have, and I love it and I actually want to do an entire episode on it. So talk to me. What do you got from it?

Lee:[00:43:41] Oh, that's so interesting, especially since you and I have not talked about that at all.

Yeah, somebody put me onto it cause it's got some soccer stuff to it. Obviously. It's not. Not one that we watched throughout our three kids, but it is just one of the things that, over the winter break. And after the closing out 2020, I think my wife's and I just wanted to laugh. [00:44:00] And knew that Jason Sudeikis was going to provide that for us.

But then as we got through the series, we were like, Oh my gosh, this has depth to it. This has a lot more depth to it than we thought. There's some incredible just lessons on humility. as the coach, giving other people responsibility. I mean, the way that he delegated to basically the equipment manager realizing, Hey, My weakness as a manager is that I don't know soccer.

And that's hilarious to say that obviously people who haven't seen the episode need to go see it. But I think for someone to say, Hey, I'm weak in this area, but I'm strong in this area. I'm strong in being a servant leader. I'm going to bring the boss, biscuits every morning. I'm going to, Make sure that I'm there and present for these players.

I'm going to build relationships with these players that they're going to start trusting me. And even though I can't kick a ball, they're going to start respecting me. So, it's just a really, again, just an interesting watch because it certainly brings out. A lot of [00:45:00] laughter and, things like that, but what also, when you, step away from it, and then there's been many times where my wife and I have watched an episode before going to bed and then I was laying there I'm like, you know what, there are some depth there. There's some, nuggets of truth in that. There's some wisdom in that. so yeah. Probably shocked you with that answer, but I, I read a lot of different leadership books and I'm a big fan of, Michael Hyatt and Bob Goff and.

a lot of those types of guys, but in terms of my impact in the last couple of months, it's gotta be Ted Lasso. Credit to him.

Phil:[00:45:27] Well, you're not alone on that. I mean, it's funny because I do another podcast called Think Orphan and my co-host is a big Alabama football fan. And we do recommendations at the end of our show and he shocked me with it.

You didn't shock me with that. He shocked me with it because he's not a soccer guy at all, but he goes like, he goes, I got one for you. I'm not going to tell you what it is yet. And we're going to talk about it next year, the next episode. So I got off the. Was it Ted lasso because it's brilliant because that show is brilliant.

Now [00:46:00] you've convinced me that I need to get on with Paul and do an entire show on that one. I think we're going to, I've tried it. I actually reached out to, if anyone listening knows anyone involved with the show that could get me to get either. Nate, the great and whatever, whoever plays that or Sudeikis, or  I'm blanking on the other coach.

But any one of those guys, cause I would love to have a conversation with them directly about it and really the writer of the show more than anything because the writing is brilliant. I think Sudeikis nails it, I was actually very skeptical when I saw I was going to be an entire show because the commercials were fantastic, but they were four minutes each, you know, and to do an entire series, but the leadership lessons in that, coaches, if you haven't, if you've held out on watching for whatever reason, Like you said though,  don't watch it with your kids unless you screened at first.

And you're okay with that. If you are, maybe we'll have a conversation about that. But there are some definitely lots of language. It's got the British humor, a lot of sexual references and things like that. But. [00:47:00] Fantastic. Fantastic leadership lessons on so many levels. So thanks. Thanks for bringing that up.

I will have to say, I imagine you've also learned from now this will, this will, hopefully it won't date it. Hopefully this will last a long time, but I imagine you've also learned leadership lessons from seeing Manchester United get back to the top of the table,

Lee:[00:47:16] yes, that is true when people listen to this in a few years, but yeah, it's been, it's been a fun week.

I'll give us that. We'll take a week right now. I mean, we got Liverpool this weekend, so we'll see how long it lasts.

Phil:[00:47:30] I, I do laugh and I've said this before on the show, my kids have asked me, it has meant was Manchester United. Were they ever good?

Lee:[00:47:37] My son's the same thing.

He's, he's stuck with it. He's a red devil, but there's definitely been days. He's like, I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. So he's back on track. That's right.

Phil:[00:47:47] Okay. Folks. So I'm sure that that was, for some of you out there that was probably more Manchester United conversation than you'd want to have, but you know what, it just, it just is, it's what I'm going to do.

but thanks again for being part of this show. Thanks for [00:48:00] being just really just your life for what you're doing for sharing your wisdom with, our audience. Very, very much. Appreciate it.

Lee:[00:48:07] Phil. I appreciate. It's just another testimony to relationships. I mean, I love how, our mutual friend connected us.

And I just hope that during this time where life is tough and it's hard to be around people even literally right now that, that people still find a way to connect and learn from each other and spur each other on, because you've done that for me. So appreciate it, man.

Phil:[00:48:27] Well, thank you. And so folks out there, thanks again for the download.

Thanks for being a part of this show. If you have anybody that you, as, we just heard this conversation happened because of a mutual connection that referred to me to, Lee. So, you know, If this is something that you have someone that you think they should be on the show. Or if you think you have something to offer to help other people and help other people to flourish.

drop an email to me at phil@howsoccerexplainsleadership.com and. keep listening, keep helping others, keep encouraging others to do the things that we're talking [00:49:00] about on the show. And I just encourage you to take everything that you're learning from this show, everything that you're learning as you're reading, if you're watching Ted Lasso or some other things, I know you'll be laughing when you watch Ted Lasso, but hopefully you're learning as well.

And you take all these things to help you to be a better leader, to help you to understand better how soccer does explain life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.