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He took a leap and it worked out well for the NC Courage

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold
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March 22, 2023 6:47 pm

He took a leap and it worked out well for the NC Courage

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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March 22, 2023 6:47 pm

This team has been really successful, so what are their goals for the upcoming season? How does Sean look for future prospects? What adjustments are they making to get even further this season? How likely are we to see more females, even in male soccer leagues? And it’s not soccer related, but did Sean fill out a bracket this year? What does he miss about coaching youth soccer?


We might ask Shawn Naius if he picks a bracket or if he's too busy preparing for the season, but he is the second year head coach of the Carolina Courage. He joined what was then Castle, is now the NCFC Youth Academy back in 2004. He was part of the coaching staff that helped the under-20 U.S. Women's National Team, excuse me, make a CONCACAF Championship and all the way to the World Cup Semifinals in 2016. He's been a Courage assistant through their NWSL Championship seasons.

He was named the interim coach in 2021, given the full-time position a few months later, now in his second season as the head coach. It is Shawn Naius. Shawn, thanks for joining us, sir.

How are you doing? Thank you, sir. Pleasure to be here. Hey, I see that your brother is obviously in the triangle, and I think he came down here before you and played at NC State, and I imagine is one of the reasons that you came here. So, if he came here for school and were playing, he had a little bit more idea of what the area was like.

What were your first impressions when you moved to North Carolina? Yeah, I mean, he is the sole reason I really came down. You know, we've always been close, so when he went to NC State and played here, he started a technical training company, and that's how I got involved in coaching.

And, you know, after 2001 and 9-11, I wanted to get out of New York and start anew. My whole family was down here, so, you know, I trusted him, and he's the one that set me up with Castle at the time, and it's been great ever since. So, yeah, it's a big move, but it's probably the best decision I've made in a long time.

Well, I see it's cool. You referred to when you got the job. I think I saw a quote about you talking about becoming the coach of the team in your hometown. So, you refer to this area.

I mean, you've been here now, I've got 20 years pretty much. This feels like your hometown more than the place where you grew up and grew up playing soccer? Yeah, I mean, you know, I've come to love the area, the people, the way of living.

The more I've been down here, the growth is so much, it looks so much like the North, to be honest, because there's been so many people moving down from that area. But, yeah, I've established myself in the area and love being here, and any place that I feel comfortable is my home. And, yeah, I have no problem in saying that this is my home area, and fortunate to have the opportunity to coach a team in it. All right, I'm not trying to get him in any trouble or bring down any heat, but I am a little bit curious. Your brother played at NC State and now coaches at UNC. Where do his and where do your, you know, rooting allegiances line when it comes to the, you have to probably play it straight. You probably have players from both teams or whatever, but like, how does he answer questions when he played at one and coaches for the other in an area where the rivalries matter like that? Yeah, I can't speak for him, but I'm a, you know, when it comes to, you know, supporting the women's team there, obviously, he's my brother.

I always support him and go to as many games as I possibly can and be their biggest fan. When I was with the youth club, it was a little bit different. You know, I had a, it was sort of an open mind and support players for wherever they wanted to go in their recruiting processes. So, it was a little bit different, but when it comes to family, you're always going to support them.

The NC Courage have a great history, Sean. Last year, you guys finished seventh, just out of the playoffs, had a good finish to the season, won three of your final five games. For the few seasons, based on the personnel they had, the expectations and the goal was competing for championships.

What are your goals this season? Yeah, look, there's been a lot of change over the last two years and, you know, for a variety of reasons and, you know, we have such a young team. We went from one of the older rosters in the league to probably the youngest roster in the league.

A lot of first-time players and from, you know, whether it's our four draft picks that we have signed or even some of the veterans that we still have here. You know, for us, it's, we don't really talk about the end goal. It's more the journey. It's more about how are we going to get better every single day. And I was talking to the team after training this morning and just looking back to February one, when we brought in so many new faces to where we are now, the growth has been tremendous, but we're still not anywhere near where we want to be. So for us, it's just, it's a weekly progression. It's how do we get better?

1% better every single day and see where that takes us. Um, you know, and I think that's the, that's the route that we want to go. The group is bought in and, you know, I think we're going to play a really good, attractive style, uh, but there's going to be a lot of, uh, hiccups along the way and, you know, uh, but eventually we want to get to a point where we're comfortable and the players are comfortable and doing what they do, but the culture and the identity and who we are is now established. And, you know, there's a lot to build off of for sure. All right.

I'm curious. I just want to peel into that a little bit more because like you've obviously been a part of championship teams, um, at the youth level, uh, the, the under 20 level as an assistant coach with the courage. And I'm sure, you know, the difference between a team you're like, Hey, there's no reason this team should look at anybody else on any game we play and not think we could win and then know a team that's at a different stage and stuff like that. So I totally get not wanting to make goals that are results based. You don't want to say, we want to make the playoffs or we want to do this.

Totally understand that. I'm not questioning that at all, but without having those kinds of goals as metrics, what, what do you, and you don't have to read me what, you know, what you guys have decided on as your team or whatever, how do you set measurable goals? I heard you say to get 1% better, but how do you sort of track, uh, to make sure that you are improving at a rate that you'd like to be? Yeah, I think it's a good question. You know, for us, you know, the years past, you know, we, we, you had players in positions that you can arguably say were the best players in the position in the world, every spot. Um, and that's obviously changed and that's, I think every team that has success always has that evolution where there's always going to be a turnaround. Um, you know, but I think, I think for us, it, it, it's, it's something that, you know, we look at it from, you know, uh, an achievable goal and where we started, whether we, whether it's based on video, whether it's based on where we see, okay, they want, what do we look like and where, what do we look like now? We all know these players want to be competitive and they want to win and they want to be successful, but there's also a process to get there. And I think the fact that we're in the process now of reestablishing who we are and how we want to play, you know, I think the players look at it, they really do look at it from a performance base. When we were in Mexico, they, they always talked to even the game after riotous that we lost and we played very well. You know, we made some silly errors and as a result, that's how we lost the game, but we played really well. And that's all the players were talking about was that I was a really good performance. So I think if they see that they're, they're trying to apply the principles that we lay out the style that we want to play and they stick to that and they believe in that, then things will start to turn the corner.

When that happens, you just don't know. But I think overall where it's hard to put a number on anything, because if you don't reach that number, does that really mean that the season wasn't a success? Not necessarily, not in the young stages we are in our, in our team.

So, you know, that's where we're at right now and, and we'll continue to progress. The staff has bought in and the players are bought in and it's been a really, really fun preseason so far. You are a male coach. You played soccer growing up. You now coach females and coach them a lot in the development league. Across sports, we've seen female coaches in, in male sports, football, NBA basketball. Is that a trend happening in soccer as well? Do we see females advancing in the ranks on, on the men's side? I'm sure you've been asked, I was trying to not ask a typical, you know, coaching women question, but, but, but I'm curious, is this, is the same thing happening other side? Are there women who are advancing in the men's soccer ranks? I mean, there's one that is specific to last year that she placed her coaches in a D three school. Um, and I think it's university Chicago. Her name is Julie stitch, uh, stitch, uh, who won the national championship.

Um, and D three, you know, I look like this to be honest with you guys. I think, I think there needs to be more. I think there's, there's really capable coaches, um, of high levels in the, you know, that are female that can coach in the male ranks. I think it's just a matter of giving them the opportunity to do so. I don't look at it as any different than a natural business if they're qualified enough to do it. Uh, there's no reason why they shouldn't have the opportunity to do that. You know, I brought on two, two female coaches here who have done a great job for us, but I think in the male game, there's, I don't see a reason why that they shouldn't have the opportunity to do it. Um, I don't think it should be treated any different than any of the business if they're qualified and, uh, they have the buy-in and the same vision as the club that they should have the same opportunity to, to coach at that stage. And I don't think it should be based on, uh, their agenda to be quite honest, Sean, a house courage, head coach. Uh, you call this your hometown. You've been here for 18 years now. Can I assume if you're a full fled North Carolinian that you fill out an NCAA bracket, even if it comes as the busiest time of you preparing for your season? Um, well, I'm going to be honest with you on that. Um, I've had, I've had too many disappointments in the bracket stage, um, you know, and, uh, I, I, the last, the last year or so obviously has been crazy.

I normally I do this year. I didn't, um, but I do have, I do feel that Yukon is the team to beat. Um, I do feel that they're gonna, that they, they're going to go on a bit of a run. They play, uh, you know, a really fun, aggressive, uh, style.

And I think that's, uh, they have great players in certain spots, but I think overall, you know, I I'm more of a, an exterior fan and, um, and, and in viewing the whole thing. Uh, now you gotta get your whole team filling out a bracket, even the ones who aren't from the United States, you just gotta make them do it. Uh, that's the problem.

I don't know if they understand it now. That's it. That's the best part about it. And then the person who knows the least will be the one who has the best bracket. That's how it always works out.

That's exactly right. Um, you spent a lot of your time coaching youth. Uh, I'm going to assume you won't say I don't miss it. So if I said, uh, what do you miss about coaching youth?

Obviously you go to the best players in the world right now. You're at the highest professional level for your sport besides the team USA, which you've also been involved in. Um, but you don't get to do some of the things you used to do, like drive out, uh, Durant road, like I did as a young child in the early eighties to play castle soccer. Um, what do you, what do you miss about working with youth?

Um, I mean, look, it's not, it's no secret. You know, the, the youth process is what allowed for me to be in the stage I'm at right now. Um, and I, and I'm extremely grateful for the, for castle and CFC youth for providing me the opportunity to support throughout my stage and, and allow me the time to grow and develop a, a great women's, uh, or young female program. You know, I think at the end of the day, you know, there's the, you still have the daily access, you still have the daily ability to coach players here. And it's definitely at a more intricate detailed level, but there is something special about developing players from 12, you know, 10, 12 through 19 and seeing their growth and seeing their, because they're into that time, sometimes in the pro ranks, you're, you may have for a year or two based on their contractual status. But I do miss that, that daily process. And, you know, we don't coach them any differently.

Um, but you know, when I was at the academy, we coach them the same way we coach our pros now to establish that standard. And I do miss being around the players. I do miss being around the staff.

I don't miss all the travel, nonstop travel. Um, but there, I would be remiss if, if, if I didn't realize what got me the stage I'm at and that's the youth game. And you know, what's, what's great now is that we're sort of in a developmental stage again in the, in the, in the pro game with the roster we have. And we have great developmental coaches on our staff and, um, that all have developmental backgrounds.

And I think that's the, that's the fun, exciting part to see where we could take this. Very cool. Sean Nehas courage, head coach, they're back in action this Saturday, Wake Med soccer park, two o'clock versus the Kansas City current. Um, congratulations. I know, uh, you know, I want to talk about you and your team this year and everything else.

I know the circumstances by which you came at coach were unusual. I know it's been a bit of an unusual run, but I just want to salute the job you've done and, uh, and the way you've carried yourself. And, uh, and I, as someone who's from here, um, I'm proud to hear you call this your hometown and I'm proud to have hometown coach on the team.

Even if, even if you weren't even if you weren't born here, we're very accepting of Northerners as you know. So, uh, it's really cool to have somebody who's been so long associated with the program, uh, now be its face and, and at the top. So, um, best of luck on a great season and we'll be supporting you. Thank you very much.

Appreciate the words. Sean Nehas courage, head coach joining us. I probably said his name wrong one of those times, but I feel like I didn't say it the same every time. So I probably got it right. One was Nehas.

I think it's Nehas. I think I know how to say it, but in the course of trying to say it, I probably didn't say it perfect every time. It's okay.

We get it. Um, here's the other thing I'll say about him and I didn't feel whatever somebody on Twitter will be like, Oh, you're not even going to ask him about everything that's going on with the courage. Look, I'm, I'm, I'm here.

I'm a fill in guy. I'm here to have some fun. I'm here to let you know that the courage you're playing. And I want to talk and learn about Sean Nehas. And I'm sure he's asked and answered a lot of questions about everything that's going on. I'll say this and, and, and it will continue to go on.

These are important issues, particularly in women's sports, um, the India WSL and the Carolina courage. So to have their, you know, look inside and get better and do things better type talks. And I think that'll, you know, a lot of, a lot of indication is that things are different now or whatever, but two things about him. One, he took over when the team, you know, he, he wasn't going to come out and say it.

I kind of spelled it out for him. The team used to have like four of the best players from team USA. Right. And now we just don't have the as many top players.

It's like you would be with any of your other programs, right? If you're a UNC fan in 2009, you're expecting them to win the national championship in 2010, expectations are lower. Same with, you know, when you know that your class in college basketball or whatever is juniors or seniors back in the eighties and nineties, like this is the year we should do it. And the next year it's like rebuilding, right? Everybody knows the courage doesn't have the same players they just had. So not only did he take over the time where they were almost guaranteed, I mean, they were guaranteed to be not as successful as the standard they had set for themselves, but he came in after a bunch of turmoil and about real questions about what was going on in the program, how players were treated and things like that. So, first of all, you have to think that they're not going to elevate a guy to being in charge that doesn't have the respect, admiration and vetting of people within the programs. You know, by virtue of getting the job at that point in time, he has to have a lot of people who think highly of him, most importantly, the players that he's, you know, overseeing and working with in their careers, whatever. So with those two things, to take over a job that you know your team's probably going to have a worse record than before, and you're taking over a tough time where there's turmoil, there's questions, there's going to be investigations, everybody's going to be watching your every step and judging your every word and making sure you say and do the right things.

Like that's tough where you can have all the right intentions, but just know heat's going to come down on me if I mess up and do the wrong thing. So a lot of respect to him, a lot of respect to the NWSL players who, you know, are demanding to be treated with respect as professional athletes and continue to help grow their game. It's been, I believe, we've seen women's soccer leagues come and go. I believe it's been the most successful women's soccer league. You kind of need to exist for like a generation. If you can make it through a couple decades where all of a sudden fans are alive that don't know that the NWSL didn't exist, like I don't know which came first. The NFL, Major League Baseball, by the time I came along they were all well established, right? Even the NBA by the time I came along, right? So that's what you need for a team or a league to exist. You need people to grow up thinking our professional sports teams include the Carolina Courage, you know, whatever. And we're almost there. We'll see if we get there in the next couple years. But best of luck to Shawna, us, and the North Carolina Courage on a great season.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-22 20:55:59 / 2023-03-22 21:04:17 / 8

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