During the World Cup, we were talking about Messi, how the ball seems to magically stick to his shoes, and Dennis told me a story:
My first soccer coach was like that -- Brother Ted. He was a great soccer player, a very good athlete. We didn't have that many kids on the team, not enough to play a full scrimmage, so we'd play 10 to 7, the 10 starters versus Brother Ted and the other kids. We couldn't stop him. He could dribble through us, past us, around us. We didn't have official practice field, just the park, so we'd set two gym bags out to mark the goals. We had to pace off the corner kicks. So when we were on a real field, a real pitch, during the games, and we could see what we were doing, it just made us better. 64 to 66. That's 1964 to 1966. In those years we never lost a game or gave up a goal.
A really good athlete, and the best coach I ever had, in any sport. He was a kind of dick though, a real disciplinarian. He was a Salvatorian brother, not a priest. He worked at the school as a maintenance guy and coach. Mother of Good Counsel. He coached soccer and basketball. He wasn't the head coach of basketball, but he was a much better coach than the guy who was. And then he moved on to Francis Jordan, the high school, also Salvatorian, as the soccer coach. I was playing American football then, but the guys he coached were the best in the state. 7 guys from that team went on to play soccer in college.
He was kind of dick though. I remember once, we were all in a huddle before the match, leaning in with our arms around each other, and he's talking real quietly and humbly about what we are going to do, and suddenly he reaches out and hits this kid in the face. Pow! Because the kid was talking at the same time he was. That got our attention alright. How did he do that without looking?
He became really close friends with my parents. There was a picture of him with my parents in their living room having a beer. It was because of him that I went to Francis Jordan. My brother and sister had gone to John Marshall, the public school, but Brother Ted said to my parents, Dennis, he has to go to Francis Jordan. There was talk about the cost, how to pay for it, and Brother Ted said I could get a job in the summers and pay off the bill. And he got me a job. For a couple of summers I worked with him at the school, buffing floors, fixing stuff.
I think he left the Salvatorian order in the 1970s sometime. Gene S_____, from the funeral home family, another Francis Jordan guy, he told me years later that Brother Ted left because he got disgusted at the homosexuality in the Salvatorian order. Even after he left the order, he still worked at the parish as the maintenance guy. And he coached some soccer teams, not for the schools, but for other leagues. They were good teams. He was a really good coach.