, who coaches the Geckos soccer team for players ages 4 to 6 in West Torrance AYSO, has done his
best to make his
team a true family affair.
Shortland's son, Mason, plays on the team as do four of his
"We had two cousins on the team last year with Mason," said Shortland
."It sort of turned into an avalanche from that.It's a great opportunity to get the family together every weekend."
Whereas most coaches would say they are toughest on their own children, Shortland
is fair to all.Family functions wouldn't be as fun if he
One of his
favored coaching techniques is the apology.
"There's a lot of apologizing during a practice or a game," Shortland
said."I'll say to someone, ‘Go apologize to your cousin.' Then I tell them to go right back out there and play." He said he couldn't be a tough coach to any child in any case.He
likens coaching youth sports to "herding cats."
"I couldn't be mad at any kid at this age.When the cousins are getting together, it's a lot like herding cats," Shortland
said."My wife's (Anita) brothers are all at the practice, so I have plenty of assistant coaches." Shortland
said the family atmosphere on the the team has made everyone, including the teammates who are not related, feel closer.
"One of the kids lives in Redondo Beach.If they didn't have the soccer, all they'd have are the special occasions like Christmas or birthdays, which would be nice," Shortland
said."But now, they get to see each other twice a week.
"And because of that, their friendships are much stronger." Shortland said the three players who are not family members - Scott Leacock, Michael Timmerman and Christopher Lew - might as well be since the parents are all longtime friends.
A couple of the kids are in Mason's kindergarten class," Shortland
said."When these kids get together, they get amped.It's a lot of fun."
One of the effects of combining sports with family is that the players often confuse the two. Shortland
has earned the nickname, "Uncle Coach," and said he
wears the name like a badge of pride.
"My own son calls me, ‘Coach Dad,' " Shortland
When the kids are together at non-soccer family functions, it may as well be soccer practice.Or maybe it's just the rough-housing that boys are so well-known for.
does have the same philosophy many youth coaches do.It's still all about the game.
"I want them to love the game as much as everybody else," Shortland
said."At this age I can't give them a lot of skills and still get them to love the game.I believe practice would stop being fun.But I'm thrilled that I have nephews who love the game as much as I do."
Publish Date:November 4, 2002