Baltimore Celtic Staff Member Spotlight – Steven Bloom
1. How long have you been coaching?
I started coaching youth soccer in 2013, so right at eight years. Once my playing days were over in 2012, I transferred my love of the game to soccer.
2. Is there a specific age group that you enjoy coaching most? Why?
There is something enjoyable and unique about each age group. It doesn’t matter to me which age group it is. I just enjoy feeding off the intensity of the sessions or games. If the players are dedicated and motivated, I’ll love coaching a player that is focused and willing to give it their all during the session. It’s always fun to see this intensity begin to blossom in younger players and surprise their parents. In older players, I enjoy seeing how much better the new generation of players are at age 15 or 16 than what I remember at 15. The fitness level and skill level of the older players is great to see.
3. What made you want to coach soccer?
I think it was a natural progression from playing to coaching. Once my body decided my days were over, my mind and heart were still overflowing with plenty adrenaline and passion. To see that translate to my kids and players has to be the greatest joy of coaching. The great thing about soccer is, it can take you so much further than just the field. Scholarships, education, travel, contracts, unique life experiences, health & fitness, the incredible people you meet, soccer can offer you so much. Some young players may not even realize all the benefits if you properly dedicate yourself. But nothing comes easy, and it takes a lot of hard work and a bit of luck. Proper guidance is key as well. I wanted to be a coach so I could be an avenue to help players not only reach their goals, but surpass their own expectations.
4. How long have you coached with Celtic? Do you have any favorite parts of being a member of Baltimore Celtic?
I’ve been with Celtic for four years. The reason I came to Celtic was its dominant reputation and history. I saw Celtic as a place for the best to get even better. But what I have learned is that Celtic is more than just winning. The dedication to education and the players’ development and well being is incredibly admirable. The directors trust the coaches and allow us to develop our own curriculum, so that independence is valued. We also work together as a club with coaching classes, we combine teams for Higher level leagues, the recent inner-club scrimmages were great, and Celtic’s willingness to share players between age groups is very unique. I like how if a player wants to play and shows a desire to play more, the club will find opportunities for them. If you are a player, and you want to play, this is the club for you.
5. What is one of your favorite coaching experiences you have ever had?
I think taking a group of 2008s to Costa Rica to play was the best coaching experience. Imagine beach soccer, two a day sessions, surfing, zip-lining, indoor turf when the rainy season got a bit crazy, and it was during the World Cup too… was incredible. We handed out tons of gear to local players, big thanks to Angelo’s. The boys played against several local teams and a couple academy teams. The highlight would have to be playing in Heredia’s Primera League home stadium. Plenty of great coaching experiences as well. The biggest lesson was from Heredia’s 2008 coach. When I asked how they develop youth players, the answer couldn’t have been more simple. He said we let them play, and they show us what they got. They play, and until about 10 years old, they just play. Team after team of players just play. And the ones that fight, the ones that play with real aggression and passion, those are the ones that are selected to move on to higher levels. Skill can be taught, but passion, determination, commitment, and aggression are golden when it comes to youth soccer.
6. Do you have a favorite moment from your playing career?
Favorite moment, has to be a goal right. This may be my favorite story, I think I’ve told my boys this one plenty of times…
I was a bit frustrated, suffering from bad form, a lot of competition in the team, fell out of favor a bit. We had an away game, my first trip to Guanacaste in almost desert-like conditions. We had a long bus ride, and I didn’t expect to get much time. We got off the bus and the rush of heat made me almost thankful I wasn’t in the starting 11. By halftime we were down 2-0 and into the second half our manager was sneaking looks at me and speaking with his assistant. I could hear their home fans taunting us and I just knew I was going on, and I didn’t care. Not a care in the world. I just wanted to ruin their evening. Confidence and motivation all of a sudden sunk into my shoulders. I came on as a forward, played high to stretch the defense and force them to prove they could run with me. Only a few minutes on and I got a simple through ball and slotted into the side net. A few minutes later almost the exact same thing. 2-2. The crowd was silent, but I could hear plenty groans and complaints…and there was still plenty time left. As time bled on, I received at my feet ball, held off a defender, and as the other center back came to close me down, our middie came through, I fed him, and we had the most memorable bus ride home South.
7. What are your strengths as a coach?
I know I am not always right and that there are plenty ways to do something. I think it’s important to accept there are many ways to do something correctly. Being open minded and willing to learn and try new things is also a definite benefit to anyone’s coaching. Every time I observe a coaching session I add to my coaching knowledge and repertoire. So willingness to learn is a definite strength for me. I think my passion comes out in my sessions. I try to motivate the players by identifying and praising their strengths and then giving them pointers how to improve in other areas that may need attention.
8. Any great advice for all the Baltimore Celtic players out there?
Advice may be something that is individual to each player. But this is advice that may work for anyone that has hopes of playing at their highest level. If you want to achieve the highest levels, we have to understand that many other players have that SAME hope. We can’t HOPE to be great players. We have to make soccer a priority and prepare to be great. Train often, as much as you can, and as much as you want. Get as much as you like. But make sure whenever you train, have fun, do your absolute best, and learn from each experience. You’ll improve each session. So just imagine training often and getting better each time, there cant be any better recipe for soccer success.