2013: M.S.S. Sports Coaching

Art Mota started playing soccer as a child, but that didn’t spark his interest in a career as a soccer coach.

His first started thinking about coaching when he began working at a hotel, after his family moved from California to Mexico. The hotel that employed him participated in a soccer league and the coach for the team asked Mota if he would help out. Mota says that was when his passion for coaching soccer was born.

After returning to the states, Mota began coaching soccer at a high school in Fresno and earned his coaching licenses through the U.S. Soccer Federation. His coaching experiences encouraged Mota to earn a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Fresno State and his master’s in sports coaching with an emphasis in sports psychology from the United States Sports Academy.

Mota has coached soccer for 16 years at the high school, club, and collegiate levels and has refereed soccer games for 11 years. He is currently the head women’s soccer coach at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore., and he also coaches under-18-year-old girls there for the Cascade Fútbol Club in Salem, Ore.

Mota took time to sit down with The Alumni Network the day before his team’s training season started to answer a few questions about the state of soccer in America and about his experiences while at the Academy.

Alumni Network: You have 11 years of experience refereeing. What are your thoughts on the recent stories about soccer fans and players taking their frustrations out on game referees?

Art Mota: A lot of these events are occurring at the youth level. Unfortunately, a lot of parents live vicariously through their kids and don’t put things in perspective. They get too involved and too emotional and lose their self-control and get out of hand. These parents need to step back and put things in perspective—their child isn’t playing for the World Cup. This is probably why we are having a shortage of referees because they are being attacked and verbally abused. It’s honestly just not worth it. Parents need to recognize that referees at the youth level are more than likely just starting out and will make mistakes.

I have been personally threatened and forced off the field on one occasion. The other team had to step in and surround me and protect me from this angry parent. Emotions get high and people lose their self-control. What is sad is that the children see that and see their parents not respecting authority and they then learn from that and end up not respecting authority either. The same goes for the coach. If the coach is barking at the referee, the players see that and pick up cues off of that behavior. The coach needs to be a role model for the players.

AN: Another hot topic right now is concussions. Typically the discussion focuses on football, but recently there has been a push to recognize concussion occurrences in soccer. Do you think there needs to be more awareness about concussions in soccer?

AM: I think it is definitely going in the right direction. At both high school and college levels, coaches have to take concussion training on a yearly basis. At the club level, they need to require coaches to take concussion training. Concussions in soccer don’t usually happen when a player hits the ball with their head. Concussions occur when it is head-to-head contact when players collide or an intentional elbow-to-head contact between two players. Soccer is a contact sport, but there is some head protection available to prevent concussions for players who have a history of concussions or head injuries. However, I was talking to a doctor recently who told me that this protection gear does not do any good. This new insight makes me unsure if I want to continue to recommend the gear to players now who have had concussions in the past.

We definitely need to raise awareness about concussions by requiring all coaches at any level to do concussion training. Maybe the Center for Disease Control or the National High School Coaches Association, or another organization could provide this training at no cost. It takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete the training and take the test at the end. It informs coaches to look for warning signs. I recently diagnosed a player on the sidelines by taking her through a series of tests and ruled that she had suffered a concussion. Later, when she went to see the doctor, they confirmed my on-field diagnosis. Our number one priority as coaches is the safety of the players.

AN: Why do you think a professional women’s soccer league hasn’t thrived in America and do you think the National Women’s Soccer League will survive?

AM: Yes, I think it will survive because most of the women’s teams are affiliated with Major League Soccer teams now and that’s a major benefit. I’m surprised that a women’s league hasn’t been going strong in the past, especially with so many networks out there. There are channels specifically geared towards women and those networks should pick up the women’s soccer league. I have a daughter and I want her to have an equal opportunity to play at the professional level, if she wants to. Female players need the same opportunities as guys in getting to that level and playing professional soccer.

I recently encouraged my girls to try out for a professional Oregon team nearby, the Portland Thorns, because even if they don’t make the team, they need to find out where they measure up to players of their age bracket. You need to get feedback about your strengths and weaknesses, so that you can be better prepared next time.

AN: Major League Soccer recently announced that it will expand the number of teams in America. I’m curious which four cities you think these teams should be located?

AM: I grew up in Fresno and that’s a great place to add a team. It’s in the middle of the state and is the sixth largest city in California. It also sits in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley and an MLS team would have a huge area to draw from with fans and sponsorships. Florida would also be a great region to have a team and maybe Arizona could be a good place to have a team. On the men’s side of professional soccer, at least half of the players on the national team are Latinos, so putting teams in those regions would draw interest from those populations.

AN: What advice would you give to somebody looking to become a women’s soccer coach?

AM: First off, you need to understand that women are different than men and boys to girls. You need to establish the fact that you are not making things personal when you are correcting anything. Girls take things more to heart and they feel that when you get on to them about something that it is a personal attack, when it’s not. You have to set ground rules and expectation from both sides—what you expect of them and what they can expect from you. I tell them that I’m firm, but fair and let them know what my expectations are. I have an open-door policy, as well, and tell them that I am there for them to talk to if they need it. We can talk about soccer or anything else. I want them to know that I care about them both on and off the field.

Being a parent of a daughter helps a lot too because you are able to experience first-hand what it is to be involved with a women’s team. You see how they communicate with each other and have relationships with each other. You get to watch how your daughter interacts with her team members.

AN: Finally, tell us was your favorite thing was about attending the Academy?

AM: Most definitely my favorite component of the Academy’s degree program is the flexibility of being able to do my studies and assignments on my own time. I didn’t have to show up to class at a certain time because that wouldn’t work for me and my schedule. Ninety-five percent of the time, the 15 weeks you are given to complete each course was more than enough time to get through them.