Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC/Ashley Orellana.
Phoenix Rising are missing something. Or rather, someone.
No players – other than young goalkeeper Brandon Keniston, Jason Johnson, and Alessandro Riggi – are out injured and separated from the team. Riggi was actually more present than ever. The Canadian midfielder was out running laps around the practice fields north of Casino Arizona Stadium and playing some one-touch passes with a staff member.
Phoenix aren’t missing a player. They are missing a coach. Rick Schantz is absent from the team this week while he finishes up his U.S. Soccer C License course in Seattle, Washington.
According to U.S. Soccer’s website, the C License course involves “coaching training sessions, coaching games, leading players, leading the team, managing a performance environment and more.”
U.S. Soccer’s coaching license pathway is intended to educate coaches in the United States on the federation’s preferred methodology. As coaches move up through the United States’ youth and professional ranks, high-level licenses are required to land full-time positions. After the “C” license comes a “B” license course, then an “A” course, and then finally an invite-only “Pro” course.
Like many other coaches, Schantz is getting his C License to further his own coaching education and to open up opportunities to pursue further licenses in the future. A source told RisingTactics.com that while Schantz is in Seattle, he is also planning to speak with various technical directors to learn more about how other clubs structure their youth development pathway.
Phoenix Rising is still evaluating how to best operate parts of their youth program, so Schantz’s conversations with others who are involved in youth development around the country could have an impact on how Phoenix choose to operate their own youth system.
While Schantz has been learning and networking in Seattle, the rest of Phoenix Rising’s technical staff is in charge of preparing Phoenix for Friday night’s game against Reno. Though assistants Blair Gavin, Peter Ramage, and Corey Robertson all typically play a big role in running training sessions and sifting through film before each weekend’s game, Schantz’s absence is still definitely being felt.
“Rick not being here is challenging because of his charisma,” Gavin said after training on Tuesday. “He’s the leader, right? We speak regularly while he’s gone to make sure he gets what he wants out of it [the week’s training and film sessions], but you’re down a person and you’re down a big person.”
Still, Gavin said he is trying to “keep the guys focused on the weekend and not make too much of it”.
Schantz plans to be back in Phoenix on Thursday afternoon and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, will coach the team on Friday.