Paul was born in Taos, New Mexico, and lived in Eastern Europe for two years from the age of 9. His family then moved to Dubrovnik, Croatia, for a year and a half. When Paul was 18, he moved to Los Angeles with the dream of becoming an actor. After a year in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, he left acting to become a youth soccer coach. At 30 years old, he started his own business teaching children. Paul continues to work with children between the ages of 2 and 16. Recently, he wrote and self-published a children’s book. Paul has also started a nonprofit organization for underprivileged children.
Non-Profit: Better Today Better Tomorrow
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I just fell into this job. Andy Chidester, who owns Assist Athletics, hired me to be the soccer coach, and I fell in love with working with kids and sharing my love of soccer and sports with them.
My philosophy is that children associate sports with fun. Sports saved my life. It’s been my saving grace since I was six, and I want to transmit that love and passion for sports to the kids.
I was hanging out with the wrong crowds, and sports helped me take a better path focused on health.
The pandemic was really difficult for me because I couldn’t play soccer, and I hated running for fitness. I found a group of seniors that played tennis, so I started playing tennis because you could be active and stay socially distant from one another.
I came to California from Taus, New Mexico, to be an actor. When I was 18, I got a scholarship to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
But I hated the green screen, microphone, lights, and fakeness. It wasn’t about your talents. It was about who you knew and being at the right place at the right time.
I did a year at the Academy and then moved to Pasadena. When I got there, a woman saw me wearing a soccer jersey and asked me if I wanted to coach soccer.
She connected me with Andy, who worked with parks and rec, and he brought me on. I just took to it like a duck to water.
About five years ago, I made the switch to go out on my own and teach soccer.
I had helped out my mom’s friend with her AYSO team, but that was the only experience I had.
My biggest role is being a positive male role model. There are things that my coaches said to me when I was in high school that have stuck with me, and I want to have that kind of impact on kids.
We moved to Estonia when I was nine years old, and they didn’t have English-speaking schools, and no one spoke English.
The way I would communicate with the kids is through sports. That had a significant impact on my life, more than a coach has.
When I was eleven, we moved to Croatia, and I played basketball to connect with my peers.
I grew up in Taus until I was nine. Then we moved to Estonia and Croatia for three and a half years, then we moved back to New Mexico, and I didn’t leave again until I was 18.
I discovered it by trial and error. I’ve been coaching 2-year-olds to 16-year-olds for fifteen years.
You always have to keep it fun. Keeping it fun will keep the kids engaged and develop their skills as they progress.
I also believe that you should play multiple sports until you’re older.
No. I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had an overbearing parent in my 15 years of coaching.
The other thing is when kids are having fun and with a coach, they are more open to direction. When a parent is trying to coach their kid, even if it’s in the same setting, there is a disconnect because there is a certain amount of discipline that comes with a parent teaching their kid. The kid is more likely to look at it as a chore and not fun, so they’re less receptive to coaching.
It’s one of the reasons parents will say, “I told them the exact same thing, but they didn’t listen to me.”
As far as discipline, I have three rules.
If you can’t follow those rules, I’m going to give you a warning, and if it continues, you’re going to sit out because you’re disrupting the class.
If a kid is acting out, you need to disarm them, and you can do that by connecting with them.
You have to find out what they’re into and relate to them. If they’re into Fortnite, you ask them about that. Find that connection and cultivate it.
I’ve been doing it for a while, and a part of it is being in the right place and at the right time. I feel at home with the kids, and the kids feel at home with me.
I’ve been doing this for such a long time. You pick up little tricks, and you find what works.
Before the pandemic, it was 10-15 kids. Once the pandemic hit, the class size dropped to six kids.
I’ve worked at schools where I had 40 kids in one class.
I would tell myself don’t worry, don’t stress. Clients will come.
I didn’t see it as a future. How could I support a family or buy a house as a coach?
The love of it. I wasn’t going to get a corporate job. I got to be outside and was doing what I loved.
It’s called Better Today, Better Tomorrow. This allows me to take my skills to underprivileged kids who don’t have access to sports in school or have access to AYSO or a coach like me.