Heinemann takes reins of US under-15 team | Soccer

Tom Heinemann was 11 years old when he began his coaching career in soccer.

“I was a little entrepreneur,” he recalled. “I was saving for a bike and decided to hold a soccer camp at my house in Brentwood. I put flyers around the neighborhood and ended up with four kids that first year. The next year , I had 11 campers, then 16. By the time I got to high school, I had probably 80 or 90 kids taking part in my camps. ”

In February, Heinemann was named head coach of the United States Men’s Under-15 National Team.

“I’ve been blessed in so many ways,” said Heinemann, a 35-year-old St. Louis native. “I have a wife who loves to travel, and we’re blessed with a son who loves sports. As far as coaching goes, it wasn’t until I was 24 and with the Columbus Crew in MLS that I really decided that was where my career was headed. I started to look at the game a bit differently. I thought back to all the coaches I’d had over the years and tried to take what I could from those experiences, positive and negative.

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“I am honored for this opportunity, and I also realize the impact we can have as coaches at this level. Under-15 is the first time these young men are together for a schedule of camps and competitions, so it’s important we get these guys off the right foot. “

Heinemann attended CBC, where he competed in soccer and basketball. He played soccer for Mike England, Jim Mueller and Ray Stahl but suffered a major knee injury that kept him from playing varsity for coach Terry Michler.

“My junior year, because of all the talent in the program, we had a special JV team that competed at the varsity level,” Heinemann recalled. “It was a crazy year at times, but we definitely learned a lot that season. wanted to play in college, but not playing as a senior really limited my options. I ended up at Rockhurst University because of their no-cut policy, and it worked out great. “

Early in his freshman season with legendary coach Tony Tocco and the Hawks, Heinemann took over when another player was injured, and he never looked back. In three seasons, Heinemann had 36 goals and 21 assists and was named an All-American following the 2007 and 2008 campaigns.

During those summers, he competed with the St. Louis Lions in the USL Premier Development League and had 35 goals in 36 games over three seasons.

“Perseverance is a big part of who I am,” Heinemann said. “I was hungry for an opportunity and grateful for the opportunities Tony Tocco and Tony Glavin gave me. And through hard work, I was able to take advantage of that.”

Heinemann signed his first professional contract with the United Soccer League’s Charleston Battery after a tryout in 2009. He finished the 2010 campaign with the Caroline Railhawks, helping them reach the USSF DII championship game. Despite a title-game loss, Heinemann was named MVP of that championship match.

He spent 2011-13 with Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew and Vancouver Whitecaps. He scored 14 goals with the NASL expansion Ottawa Fury in 2014-15 and won an NASL championship with the San Francisco Deltas in 2017. His playing career ended in 2018 after 12 games with Penn FC of the USL.

“I loved to play the game, and I’m grateful for the opportunities I had,” Heinemann said. “But I’m just as passionate about coaching and about providing leadership. At under-15, these young men need to someone to point them in the right direction. And it’s more than soccer; they need people in their lives who care about them, who respect them and who want what’s best for them. ”

During his playing career, Heinemann co-founded the United Soccer League Players’ Association in 2018. He helped lead negotiations for the first collective bargaining agreement in US lower-division soccer history. He spent more than four years as executive director of the players’ association.

“I dealt with some negative things during my playing career, and hopefully the players’ union can make things easier for the guys playing at that level now,” said Heinemann who served as an assistant coach at Yale University, University of British Columbia and at Belmont University in Nashville before making the step up to his present position.

Heinemann, his wife Katrina and son Hudson are in the process of moving from Nashville to Chicago, where US Soccer is headquartered. There, he’ll continue to work closely with the US men’s soccer leadership group, which includes Sporting Director Earnie Stewart, general manager and St. Louis University graduate Brian McBride, and men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter.

“My dream was to represent my country as a player, and that’s something I wasn’t quite able to accomplish,” Heinemann pointed out. . I consider it an honor to represent the US, and it’s something I take very seriously. At this level, our job is to provide coaching and leadership in order to help these young players learn and develop and hopefully continue to make the steps needed to compete at the next level. I want to do whatever I can to help these young men get to the Senior National Team. “

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