Installment #3 of "20 Questions with ..." where we ask ten soccer-related questions and 10 personal questions of some of our DYSC coaches, trainers and volunteers.
This week we have DYSC President and U14 Girls Division I Premier Coach, Mike Diker:
How did you become interested in soccer?
By default - My mother refused to let me continue to play American Football because I went to Wooster in 8th grade and made JV, players were much older and bigger. I tried Rugby for one week (that sport is crazy) then my English Professor at Wooster, who was the soccer coach, said, "Diker you're fast, you should play soccer." I fell in love with soccer right away.
How long have you been playing/coaching?
I started in 8th grade playing and never stopped. I still play soccer 2 to 3 times a week almost year round. I started coaching in the Intramural league when I was a junior in Boston College, then again full time when my daughter started playing with DYSC, which was 20 years ago.
What teams/clubs have you played/coached for?
I played for Wooster School – Danbury High School – Intramurals at Boston College – O40 for New Fairfield – Indoor at Various leagues – Lubus Summer League (Danbury Youth Soccer Club was not around when I was a kid) - I have coached for DYSC IH, Travel and Premier, Oakwood US soccer academy, Danbury HS boys.
Do you have a special pre-game routine or superstition?
YES!! – they are too embarrassing to list all of them, but here are few:
- My lucky pregame song is Earth Wind and Fire's "September";
- I have been known to wear lucky socks;
- There are certain foods I will eat;
- I will wash the team's pinnies after a bad game, all of the pinnies, even the ones not at the game, just to make sure there is no bad luck left when we practice the following week.
Did you play sports other than soccer?
Yes. Baseball – Football – Basketball – Golf – Lacrosse – Softball - Ice Hockey – Track and Field – Rugby (1 week, that is crazy) – Chess team (more of a sport than you think).
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
In life, my parents and In-Laws. In sports, people like: Cal Ripken Jr., Edwin Moses, Derek Jeter, also Muhammad Ali and Vince Lombardi.
What has been your proudest moment on the field?
There is no way I could pick just one, so here are a few:
- Just this past Fall 2012, the Danbury Revolution G99 team made premier division 1 in the first season I coached them, I was very proud of the entire team and staff.
- My daughter's premier team, the Danbury Patriots, beating Yankee United in the ST Cup quarterfinals. It was a scoreless tie and went to PKs, winning was great, but the team effort put forth by the players was incredible.
- My oldest son's first introduction over the PA system as a starter at the University of New Haven, because it was a realization and relentless pursuit of a dream he had for many years.
- My youngest son's team, the Danbury Revolution's Championship at the Oakwood Premier Invitational when they were U17. I coached that team from U10 to U19 and that weekend we played so well as a team, we dominated the entire tournament AND every player on that team was recruited by college coaches. The win was great, but the pride the players had after talking to college coaches was more memorable (the photo for this article is from that weekend).
- Finally, every time I get to go watch one of my former DYSC players play in a college match and sit with their parents, it is awesome!
What has been your most embarrassing moment on the field?
I don't recall being embarrassed on the field, I made ridiculous mistakes as a player and missed some wide open goals, but I was never really embarrassed by it because it is just part of the game and I was never a great player. But I will say the worst moment for me as a player on the field happened a few years ago when defending a corner kick. I had back post and our keeper called for the ball and went up to get it and when it hit his gloves, I let go of the post, turn my head and started out of the box, but somehow, the ball went thru his hands and next thing I know the ball was in my arms. That was the first time in over 40 years of playing I was responsible for giving up a PK, so it was bound to happen eventually.
Do you have a favorite professional soccer team? Player?
I support US soccer, so my favorite teams are the US Men's and Women's national teams. Pele was always my favorite, he was truly amazing. I also liked watching Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers and Kristine Lilly play, now I really like watching Michael Bradley play and many of the Spain national team stars.
Do you have any advice for kids who want to go further with their soccer skills?
Practice is the obvious answer, but I'll add - only practice because you WANT to, not because you feel you have to. There is a big difference. Soccer should always be fun. So assuming you love to practice and play, make an effort to challenge yourself in a practice or friendly game to try something new, like play a different position, use your weaker foot and keep challenging yourself. And to really go further in soccer (or anything else you have passion for) work hard when no one else is looking, that is what will take your skills to the next level.
What do you do in your off time?
Very little time off from soccer, but if a can, I'll fish or play golf.
Is there a talent you wish you had?
I wish I stuck with guitar lessons and could play, because I love to sing.
What did you want to be when you 'grow up'?
Originally a doctor, then I decided not to pursue that in college, the older I got, the happier I was with that decision.
What is your dream job?
Owning a fishing or golf store with a small bar and grill attached, somewhere tropical.
What's on your MP3 player?
Technically nothing, but I really love music and listen to satellite radio and CDs of a crazy mix of songs from a lot of R&B: Earth Wind & Fire, the Jacksons, to grunge: Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins to current Pop music and oldies, real oldies.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I watch some really bad reality TV shows I'm too embarrassed to list here (and no asking my kids which ones, but I will say I am happy for Des, if you know that reference then you watch the same show).
Where is your favorite vacation destination?
Jersey Shore with family.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what one thing could you not live without?
Assuming the survival stuff is there, Satellite TV/Internet so I could watch my stupid shows and sports.
Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to hang out with for a day?
Leonardo da Vinci (and a translator).
What is one interesting thing people may not know about you?
I am a very good artist and try to do one piece of artwork a year.
Thanks Coach Mike for sharing with us!