Making a change. A head coach is a person who wears many hats; teacher of the game, mentor, advisor, sometimes provide meals and even more. It can be a challenging yet rewarding. When (San Antonio) Sam Houston High School Coach Aaron Yates took over, the boys soccer team only had a handful of wins over the last couple of years prior to 2021/2022 high school soccer season. This season, Sam Houston HS boys soccer (District 27-5A) has surpassed their win totals already. While the objective of any coach is to improve the team on the field and get wins, it’s also the responsibility of the coach to lead and teach values that will stay with the student athletes long after they are done playing soccer. More than wins and losses, a coach’s success is based on how the lives of the student athletes are changed.
Get to know SA Sam Houston High School Soccer Head Coach: Aaron Yates
Tell us a little about yourself, where did you grown up, attend school and starting in soccer (playing and/or coaching) and current roles besides coaching, fun facts about yourself.
I grew up in Burleson, Texas graduating from Burleson High School in 2012. While there I played baseball and ran cross country. After graduating I attended The University of Texas at Tyler and majored in interdisciplinary studies. I also ran cross country for one season before getting injured and focusing on my education. While in college I met my wife Jessica and got married in 2016. We now have one beautiful daughter Abigail. We moved to San Antonio after graduating in the summer of 2017 which is where I began my coaching career. I started coaching soccer that August with the girls at Sam Houston. After a two-year absence from Sam Houston, I returned as the boy’s head soccer coach.
How did you get into coaching?
I have always loved competing in everything I do. Growing up I was always playing some kind of game or competition with friends. Once I saw how much my dad got to compete while coaching, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
Prior to coaching did you play soccer, if so, what was your experience?
I did play soccer for one season growing up, but because it overlapped with baseball I did not play anymore. I have had to learn the game through colleagues and clinics, as well as watching YouTube and live games.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in becoming a soccer coach?
You must love what you do, and your family must understand the commitment going into it. This is not a 9-5 job and even when the season is over the job is not done.
What does working as a soccer coach mean to you on a personal level?
Personally, working as a soccer coach is a dream come true. I never thought I would be a head soccer coach, but now that I have had a few years to learn I have fallen in love with the game and would not change it for anything.
What are your core values as a head coach?
Accountability. Throughout our entire school one thing we have been talking about throughout the cultural change has been accountability. We push our student-athletes to hold each other accountable to all aspects of their lives. Throughout this process we have seen some students step up and allow their leadership skills to really flourish.
What have been some of your biggest challenges as a soccer coach?
The biggest challenge has been the language barrier. We have a locker room where four languages are spoken; Spanish, Keronie (dialect in Taiwan), English, and Garifuna (Afro-Indigenous language spoken mainly in Belize and St. Vincent).
Do you think a coach is an important mentor and part of a student athlete’s development not just in sport but life?
Coaches are one of the biggest mentors a student can have. We do so much more than just coach. Sometimes we are the source of a meal, we are transportation, and a tutor. I have also helped many students fill out job applications and create a resume’. As a high school coach we must use the game to teach the student-athletes how to be successful in life.
Do you have any coaches or mentors you look or have looked up to as inspiration?
I look up to my dad, but also to my track coach, Coach Scott. He taught me how to fight through tough circumstances and to finish everything I start.
Being a coach, you have to manage a roster of student athletes from different various backgrounds, how do you bring individuals together to make an effective team?
One thing I make a point of doing before we play a game is to have a lock in. This is usually in place of a practice and a couple players will bring their game consoles to the school for us to play FIFA on. This allows us to build comradery even through different languages and have some fun together.
Sam Houston Boys soccer has improved greatly this year and has already surpassed win totals from the last couple seasons. What has experience like to see the team come together and what were some keys to the team’s success?
This has been the most fun season I have had as a coach. To see all the work put in by the athletes, over the summer playing in the East Central summer league getting to know each other on the field, to the work in the weight room, finally pay off there are no words to describe this experience. The biggest key to our success this year is starting to trust one another and play as a team. Before this school has always had talent and speed on the pitch but would not work together. Now we have one goal and that is only going to be accomplished as a unit.
For those student athletes looking to continue playing soccer after high school in college or even possibly as a professional, what advice do you have?
My advice is to stay humble and always outwork the person next to you. Everywhere you go is a chance to outwork someone and it all starts in the classroom. The very first question coaches are asked is about grades. If those are not good, then the conversation ends and a chance is lost. Stay on top of the grades from your freshman year THROUGH your senior year.
We will featuring more High School Student Athletes and Head Coaches from the San Antonio area throughout the season. If you know an outstanding student athlete or head coach from the San Antonio area you’d like to recommend to be featured you can email us at email@example.com