One of my strengths as a coach is that I am able to get the best out of athletes. In large part this is because my athletes know I care about them, not just as players but as people.
What do you do when your dream is shattered? You reinvent yourself.
Take MP, for example. Growing up he played for SWU, coached by his father, Les Duxbury. “My father talked to me about the game all the time, and taught me that I had to earn everything the game could give me,” he says. “I had to try out for his teams knowing that I had to be selected by every panel member otherwise I would be cut.”
Mentored by his father and some of the greatest legends in Canadian soccer, including Bert Goldberger and Neil Turnbull (who coached in two FIFA World Cups), MP worked hard, successfully honing his soccer skills and eventually landing a scholarship to play for the UCLA Bruins.
Then he blew out his knee.
For many young athletes, that would have been the end of the story. For MP, it was luckily the beginning of a whole new chapter.
Having seen the way MP interacted with young players, Neil Turnbull encouraged him to get involved in coaching and became his mentor. MP has been coaching ever since. He started in the early 1990s, running camps for the Alberta Soccer Association (ASA) and from then on he never looked back.
“Coaching gives me the opportunity to give back to the sport that has given me so much,” he says. “I love watching athletes who push themselves to achieve. Basically I am a passionate person and I love sharing that passion with youngsters.”
Over the years, MP has coached at least seven different teams for SWU alone. Outside of SWU, MP has coached at every level, from community teams to college teams including Kings College and NAIT. He has also been a coach consultant and staff coach with several different soccer organizations. He is presently a Principal Coach at Vimy Ridge’s Green & Gold Soccer Academy. Dozens of MP’s players have gone on to play at colleges throughout Canada and the US, and several have gone pro. And they all message him on his birthday.
It’s the way MP coaches that inspires that kind of loyalty. “One of my strengths as a coach is that I am able to get the best out of athletes. In large part this is because my athletes know I care about them, not just as players but as people,” he says. “My players learn what it means to be a member of a team and how special the relationships they have developed truly are. We care for each other and work for each other. My 2003 girls team is a great example of this. We close each session in a huddle and yell ‘We Are SWU!”
Teams often take on the personality of their coach. MP’s teams always play an attractive style of soccer. And they always compete. But it’s not necessarily about being competitive. It’s about having a passionate, unstoppable love of the game.