In this edition of Reed Between the Lines: Taylor County Middle School Head Boys’ Soccer Coach Travis Uhl.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I moved to WV from PA in 2001 and completed my teaching degree at Fairmont State. I currently work at Taylor County Middle School teaching 5th grade where I’ve been teaching for the past 13 years. I am married with two kids and I live in Grafton. I have been coaching my son in soccer for the past 7 years. I enjoy all sports and love the outdoors.
When did you first decide you that wanted to get involved with coaching?
I first decided to get into coaching a long time ago when I started helping my nephew’s Little League team in the early 1990’s. I’ve always put family first and hoped that when I had children that I could become involved and coach them in some aspect. When my son decided to play soccer at the age of four, they needed coaches, so it was a no-brainer, and my coaching career began. I really did not know much about soccer at the time, but with the help of my wife Amanda and a little research, I began to understand the sport. Though I am still learning and growing as a coach, I feel that I’ve come a long way.
Who is your favorite sports hero and why?
I don’t really have a favorite sports hero. I look up to my wife, as she played sports collegiately, and I also look up to my first college roommate, Homer. My wife inspires me because she holds values as a coach that I think creates a great team. All her players truly love to play for her, and she is a student of each sport she has played. My first college roommate was a three-sport athlete out of high school and gained accolades as a quarterback of his high school football team. He is one of those people that others are drawn to due to his charisma. He is currently a very successful head football coach of a AAA school in PA. He was just a great person that always had a positive outlook toward sports and recognized their importance.
How has coaching affected your life?
Coaching has affected my life in nothing but positive ways. I really enjoy working with the kids in something that they are passionate about. Seeing them develop on the field is just as satisfying as seeing them grow in the classroom. Coaching does keep me busy. However, I’ve only coached at the rec level until this year. This will be my first season as the middle school’s coach. I look forward to the challenge.
What is your favorite movie about sports?
I have many favorite sports movies, but I would have to say that one of my favorites is Rudy. I love an underdog and seeing someone succeed against the odds.
What is the most bizarre question you have ever been asked by someone about soccer?
I can’t say that I’ve been asked a bizarre question. I’m probably the one asking the bizarre questions.
What is the one thing you always do after winning a big match?
Thank my players for their effort and thank the good Lord.
What advice do you give your kids who are both aspiring soccer players?
Work hard and there is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.
What are your best and worst memories in coaching?
My best memory about coaching is the year my team lost their last game at the state tournament. I remember standing there telling the boys that I was really proud of the way they carried themselves at the tournament and that they needed to realize that soccer and sports is not life. The type of person they are and the way they represent themselves means more than any game. I saw all the boys go from disappointment to an understanding of how one game does not define who you are. A few weeks later my team received the “Fair Play” award for outstanding character and sportsmanship which meant more to me than any championship. My worst coaching memory was thinking too far ahead in a championship game. I put that loss on the decisions I made. I was thinking about overtime rather than just coaching in the moment.
If you could be a successful coach in another sport what would it be?
Baseball, hands down. It was the first sport I loved.
What one word or phrase do you think describes you?
Who are easier to coach in soccer, girls or boys? Should I have asked that?
I have only coached girls on one occasion when I had a coed team. I don’t think gender makes a difference, I believe it’s the individual player and their personality. Then how all the individual personalities mesh together as a team.
Where is your favorite away venue to coach a match?
The big stage of Barboursville, where state tournaments are held.
Describe playing soccer on turf versus playing on grass. Do you have a preference?
All my coaching has taken place on grass so far.
What would you say to a star player who is really struggling out there?
It would depend on how they were struggling. I would say something appropriate to the situation and see what was going on.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I have no idea. I just hope to be alive.
What do you think you do well as a coach?
I think I read my players well. I can tell who is having an off day, who might need a little boost or who needs brought back down to earth.
What do you say to someone who thinks watching soccer is boring?
That they are right. I tell them that if they think it’s boring, they just need to understand the game. When my daughter started playing 11 years ago, I found soccer to be boring. After I learned the game, I really enjoy it.
What would you tell a kid who has never played organized soccer but is thinking about trying out?
Go for it! They might just find it is the sport for them.
What did you think of these questions?
They are garbage. Just kidding, they are fine.
*Each week the Mountain Statesman features a coach or player from a different Taylor County sport. We hope you enjoy the chance to learn a little bit more about them.