Eddie Henderson, one of the fastest college players during his heyday in the late 1980s, has joined Las Vegas club Neusport FC as director of coaching from this position as director of coaching of the Nevada State Soccer Association.
Henderson, who starred at the University of Washington and represented the USA at the 2007 Under-20 World Cup in Chile, was a stockbroker but says he reassessed what he was doing after the events of 9/11 and returned to soccer.
He talks about his career and plans for Neusport ...
Tell us a little bit about yourself and a lifetime in soccer.
"It definitely has been a lifetime of soccer. I grew up in Seattle in a home with 18 kids in the family and soccer was our game, because we were poor. When I was only 17, I was drafted by a professional team. I negotiated the contract myself and was all ready to go but then learned a very important lesson...you can't sign a contract as a minor. My dad refused to sign, as my going to college was important to him, and I have to say it was the smartest decision I was ever forced to make. I enrolled at the University of Washington and played for them, making All-American and red-shirting my sophomore year to play on the USA U-20 World Cup national team. While playing in the matches in Chile I was approached by several pro teams and decided once I returned home to the USA, I would go pro. I went on to play play professionally for 11 years. But, and this is so important to me, I still continued my college, eventually graduating with degrees in psychology and business administration. After I retired I started a career as a stockbroker, which I did for quite awhile. In 2001, after the tragedy of 9/11 I reassessed what I was doing and realized that I was missing what I loved, soccer, and started my new path in coaching and soccer administration as the technical director for the State of Kansas."
And how has your path taken you to Neusport?
"From Kansas I moved to Nevada, a lot because of the weather and family. I'd rather be hot all the time than cold one day! I worked with the State of Nevada for five years and while I believe we made a positive impact on youth soccer during those years, I found myself being less hands on with the players and making less of an impact with the kids on the field. It was starting to become all about administrative duties and and managing finances, the things I'd left stockbrokering to get away from. Then Neusport came along with this tremendous opportunity to pass on the lessons this game has taught me and to make a real impact and I didn't hesitate. I've always felt that if you are going to make a change, you should go with the best, or why make the change? So I chose Neusport."
What are the broad strokes of the changes you'd like to help implement at Neusport?
"Neusport has really good direction and programs already, but our Neu-Way Play Development Curriculum adds to that success, bringing something new to Nevada that is essential to growing a program and its players. And guiding players to grow into the best they can be, on and off the field, is what it's all about. Like they say, change is inevitable, growth is optional. This curriculum is a roadmap to that growth and to attaining the highest standards possible. The curriculum, which revolves around distinct skill sets, is self-evolving and simultaneously allows for lesser developed players to get better while encouraging more accomplished players to keep developing and to excel. I believe that when we set goals we can achieve them, and this curriculum is that set of goals for our coaches and players. I'm excited for this year and the implementation of the Neu-Way PDC program. And I know that Neusport's players are going to love it when they start to experience its power in their regular coaching sessions and, if they choose to take advantage, at the special Neusport Academies we will be holding throughout the year. It's going to be an exciting season!"