Dear Pride Family,
I am leaving Korea…
I am writing to let you know that I have transferred total control and ownership of Pride Girls Soccer to Head Coach Jung Dajung and her coaching staff. I am relocating to the U.S. this Summer so my daughter ("Coach Emily") can attend school in the U.S. for her final two years of high school.
I will stay on this season and be at each practice as an advisor to the Head Coach and Coaches, and a resource for the parents to ensure a smooth transition.
And Pride Plays On!
You should take comfort that this transition has been planned out since Pride's first day back in the Spring of 2016, because I am not from Korea and I knew that one day I would have to leave this great country - so we have always been preparing for this time.
Pride Girls Soccer is in Good Hands
Head Coach Dajung and her staff understand and embrace our mission, embody our culture, and represent the future of the program as I envisioned it: a girls soccer club in our community for all girls where they can "have fun, be safe, and learn the beautiful game", lead by women.
My Advice to Parents
-Be Patient and Flexible
This is a time of big changes for the program. Schedules, processes and procedures will shift, and because we are all human mistakes will be made. Take the long view.
It's not about you. It's not even about your girl. It's about empowering young girls in Korea to have fun, be safe, and learn the beautiful game, making them resilient leaders who may someday change the world. In fact… every time they step on the pitch they are!
Spread the word about Pride Girls Soccer. The inequities in the world are only reduced when each person stands for goodness. So tell your friends with girls!
Be ok with being outside your comfort zone as a person, and a soccer parent. Your girls will see your growth and do likewise - just like when you see them being brave by stepping onto the pitch you are inspired by their bravery.
-Be a Contributor
We built Pride as a community program with a parent board and are transitioning to a more typical soccer club model where the coaching staff handles administrative and communication responsibilities - but still there will be chances to be helpful for those who wish to. Ask how you can help.
-Be a Culture Keeper
Pride has a healthy, sustainable, positive team and parent culture. We are invited to play at prestigious tournaments not because we are a good soccer program (which we are), but because we are good people and good soccer citizens. Let's keep it that way. Be a Pride family member who keeps our culture positive.
-Many parents pull their kids out of sports when middle school or high school begins, so their kids can focus on grades, but the data is clear: kids who stay in sports through middle school and high school do better academically than their peers who stop playing. Don't pull them out of sports just when they need it the most both academically, socially, physically and for their mental health and life balance.
My Sincere Thanks…
A program like this is special - and it doesn't happen by itself.
As the African Proverb goes "It takes a village to raise a child", and this village called Songdo came together to create something better for our girls than what life was going to offer them.
Community leaders like Annie Ham, and Kenneth Youngbin Lee supported our program early and vocally. Coaches like Sarah Hee and Jabin Yun got behind this program early, and helped build a strong foundation. Local shop keepers allowed me to hang posters in their windows. Great schools like Chadwick, CMIS and Incheon Global Campus supported (and still support) our efforts in the community. Soccer legends like Kim JinHee (Women's World Cup 2003) got behind our program. Parents stepped up and learned how to become soccer moms and dads of young girls - and some even became Board Members (without whom we never would have come so far). Older brothers supported their sisters quest to play the game, and older girls became assistant coaches.
And most importantly, our brave girls stepped onto the pitch in the context of a patriarchal culture, and in face of possible ridicule and ostracism from both boys and girls, friends and even family. They trusted us - and they trusted themselves. They got knocked down. They got back up. They discovered how tough they are. They learned how to take responsibility and how to share it. How to lead and how to follow. How communicate better and work together to achieve things as a team. How to win and how to lose. And that anything. Anything is possible with hard work and a supportive family, team and community.
I'm looking forward to life in the United States, and making a difference in my communities there.
Many of you know that in the U.S. I am also the founder of another community program for your people "The School of the Way", a free MMA (www.mentoring and martial arts) program in Baltimore City. Like Pride Girls Soccer, I founded this program and then left it in the hands of a capable leader. At this point in my life, and with the back problems I've suffered from for more than 20 years I don't foresee myself practicing martial arts or playing soccer again, but I will continue to try to make a difference in this world.
I will keep up my work as a professional life coach through Starling Growth Advisory, and I have also joined my long-time mentor's company Clark Leadership where I will continue advising company owners, CEOs and senior executives as an Executive Coach and a facilitator for Business Mastermind Groups.
I am also developing a Website platform for fellow military veterans, and especially those who suffer from PTSD to help them begin talking about their experiences in order to begin healing from their experiences in the military, and get professional mental health help if necessary.
Founding and growing Pride Girls Soccer with you and your families has been among the great honors of my life and I will never forget it. It will be one of the things of which I am most "Proud", with memories that will keep my heart warm when I am a very old man.