Thank you, Clay Berling

I have been very fortunate in many ways, and much of that is thanks to Clay Berling, the man who gave me my first job, and the only job I’ve had in my adult life. A dream job.

I was 10 years old when I first became aware of Soccer America and its founder, Clay Berling, a drawing of whom accompanied his “Direct Kick” column in the Soccer America magazines that arrived weekly in our house in Honolulu.

We had, in 1974, moved to Hawaii from Texas, where I was lucky that my enthusiasm for soccer coincided with the beginning of the American youth soccer boom. I was a Dallas Tornado fan.

In Soccer America I would follow the Tornado, other NASL news, like Cosmos updates – and check out what else was going on in the soccer world.

In 1979, a freshman in high school, a Soccer America Magazine arrived at our house -- with my name in it! A correspondent from Hawaii had covered our high school tournament.

Early on in college, at UC Berkeley, I was determined to be a journalist, was working for The Daily Californian, and got a call from Soccer America, which was based in Berkeley, and was asked to submit college soccer articles.

How lucky I was, that Soccer America was based in the city where I went to college.

I went from free-lancing to an internship, to a part-time job, and to full-time after graduation.

Whenever Clay Berling came into the office, he would greet us all and compliment us for our work. There would be times when it seemed like American soccer faced insurmountable challenges -- but Clay would deliver his Direct Kick column that was all about how promising the future was for soccer in the USA.

I’ve not been someone inclined to be optimistic about how things will turn out. I've tended to be skeptical. Which made me especially fortunate and thankful for Clay Berling, who was always positive, optimistic, hopeful -- and able to point why and how things would turn out well.

Clay always believed the future was bright for American soccer. He was right.

And I've been very fortunate, thanks so much to Clay Berling.

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