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Q&A: Davis Legacy coach Rozie DeWeese

Note: NorCal Premier Soccer regularly sits down with an influential figure in the youth soccer landscape to pick their brain about a variety of different topics that are relevant in the current soccer environment in the United States. For this edition we spoke with Davis Legacy coach Rozie DeWeese. A long-time member of local college coaching staffs including UC Davis and Sacramento State, where she currently serves as an assistant, DeWeese is one of the most experienced coaches in Northern California. After finishing up a playing career that saw her rank third all-time in goals scored for Cal State San Bernardino, DeWeese began working with her alma mater. She then moved onto the women’s program at Indiana State before moving to Northern California to work in both the club and college game. The NorCal Premier Soccer Women’s Committee member holds a USSF B License, is a Licensed US Soccer Grassroots/D License Instructor, and also serves as the Director of Coaching for Capital Valley FC.

NorCal: How did you fall in love with soccer?

DeWeese: My mom put me in it when I was very young and I had a lot of really great experiences growing up. My first plane ride was through soccer, our team went on a two week trip to Europe when I was 14-years-old. Things like that helped, but I was lucky enough to go to college and play soccer and create a lot of friendships and great memories and a great work ethic there. I just had an appreciation for soccer being more than a game, it’s a place where you build friendships.

NorCal: Given that you have the perspective of working in the youth game, what’s different now about it than when you were growing up playing?

DeWeese: Things are so different now, the level is so much greater. You have younger players that are probably way better on the team at the U11 level that are probably better than I was when I was 14. Just the level of play, players getting better, the amount of players involved in the game (has increased). Also it’s become, unfortunately, something where there’s a lot fewer players playing out in their yards. But at the same time, there are also a lot more opportunities, if you have access, in terms of organized play. I guess it’s just about creating the opportunities for kids who don’t have access because for me, if I didn’t have somebody help me through that as a kid, I wouldn’t have been able to be involved due to finances.

NorCal: You mentioned that kids aren’t really going out to play in their yards anymore. How do we get that unstructured play back?

DeWeese: I feel like, for me, and in my own family situation, when we were living in Davis in a neighborhood of kids,

Rozie DeWeese with Tovo Academy’s Todd Beane

there were probably 12 kids in that neighborhood. My son was probably outside running around, enjoying the neighborhood in Davis with children. Where we live now, we moved right before COVID-19, so we haven’t had a chance to really meet anybody, but there’s no kids around and there’s barely any kids outside so he doesn’t really have that opportunity anymore. But I think, to be really honest, the world is different now. I don’t want my son going out in the front yard unless I know the neighbors and I know that they would look out for my kids. It’s just a different time. Kids also have a lot more options these days, they’re so distracted in good ways and not so good ways with the world right now and social media and with other sports. Other sports are positive, but video games and internet in general are just another distraction that make it difficult to get our kids physically playing. During COVID it’s been difficult to get my own son off the computer because he’s on it all day for school and wants to be on it afterwards and I’m saying, “get up and go play!” In our house, we play soccer. We play inside, we play wherever, we create opportunities, but I usually have to do it with him. He won’t always do it by himself. So maybe parents, siblings, or neighborhoods need to be involved. Ultimately it can be about creating a culture of friendships and  through the game.

NorCal: How has COVID-19 impacted your coaching? How have you adapted to the current situation in the world?

DeWeese: It’s definitely more challenging than I ever would have expected it to be. I’ve been coaching for a long time but I don’t profess to know everything — I’m a lifelong learner and I’m always open to learning more. This has just been another challenge on how I can be creative and still inspire players to love the game, to want to keep learning the game, to provide them with opportunities to, not just get better in terms of individual skill, but to keep their minds sharp in terms of making game-like decisions within training to the best of our abilities. So, in looking at the positive, it’s been a fun challenge in a way to try to come up with activities and exercises in a social distancing way where you can still apply as many principles to the game as possible within the restrictions.

NorCal: If somebody really wants to keep improving during this time and not lose any ground in their development, what are you telling them?

DeWeese: Find the opportunity in the challenges we are facing. Set goals, be positive, stay motivated and create a plan toward reaching your goals. Support each other through this process — rely on your teammates to help keep you accountable and motivated toward achieving your daily, weekly and monthly goals. A lot of our players, coaches, and parents are dealing with mental health challenges in a way we have never experienced before. Creating an environment for support and a culture of respect and love to help each other through this process is even more important than ever. Keep growing through these challenging times and remember how the game makes you feel, remember why you work so hard and love it so much. And remember to reach out to your teammates to give and receive needed support!

NorCal: You’re part of the NorCal Premier Soccer Women’s Committee. What are you guys doing to encourage more women to get involved in the game at the coaching level and how do we accomplish this?

DeWeese: I think what (Committee Chair) Erin Sharpe and the Committee are doing is on the right track by looking to get youth and college players interested in coaching at that level. Getting them into those grassroots coaching courses. Maryclaire Robinson and I have been the go-to coaches for those courses. We’re trying to create those opportunities so that we can reach out to as many young women as possible. Youth players and college players are looked at as future coaches, although we need to provide opportunities for them as best we can and getting them licensed is one way to give them a head start.

NorCal: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

DeWeese: I’m involved in the game in so many different ways and I really enjoy the opportunity to make a living in an environment that I love and one that set me in the right direction as a young kid. It provided me a positive pathway to something better. For me to be able to provide that opportunity to give back is amazing. I just love learning and sharing what I’ve learned. I’m almost stretched a little too thin with everything I’m doing between college coaching, teaching at UC Davis, and club soccer, but I couldn’t see doing this any different way.