Daniels’s still got it! A coach for the ages

Kris Blumberg, staff writer

Mark Daniels has been coaching girls’ and boys’ soccer at South since the early ‘80s and is always looking to help develop athletes into great players. What started from the influence of his friends turned out to be a decision Daniels would never regret, he said, and a long career of coaching soccer.

“When I was playing in a men’s league, a bunch of the guys were high school soccer coaches and we became friends,” Daniels said. “One of them said I should come on staff and help him coach at [South], so I did.”

Daniels is a very competitive coach and said that his main objective is to find the strengths of individual players. He has turned to his years of coaching experience to improve the current South soccer teams.

“Identifying players’ strengths and abilities to build a team is something I have enjoyed doing as a coach,” Daniels said. “Playing the sport myself and knowing the game helps me create situations that can help my team compete against opponents.”

During his career at South, Daniels has worked with many other coaches, including Reggie Lara, boys’ varsity soccer coach. Lara has been coaching alongside Daniels for the past seven years and they have assisted each other in both the girls’ and boys’ soccer programs. Daniels had been Lara’s mentor before having him take over the boys’ soccer program.

“It was really helpful to have someone as experienced and knowledgeable as [Daniels] to help me navigate those waters as I took over the boys’ side of the program,” Lara said.

Daniels has been an integral part of Lara’s career at South by teaching him soccer techniques and demonstrating coaching skills that Lara aspires to. Throughout this mentoring process, Lara said that he and Daniels have become good friends, sharing a mutual connection through soccer.

“What started off as a coaching mentorship has evolved into this really positive relationship where he and I are close friends,” Lara said. “I almost view him as another father figure in my life. He means that much to me.”

Daniels has positively influenced the game for many players, including senior Maggie Ryan, girls’ varsity soccer player. According to Ryan, Daniels is an approachable coach whom she has enjoyed working with for years. Ryan explained that she is thankful for the many moments shared with Daniels on the soccer field.

“Coach Daniels had been going over short corners in practice and told us they would work,” Ryan said. “Then we scored off of one in the next game and he told us ‘told you so’. It was pretty funny and he was definitely right.”

According to Ryan and Lara, Daniels has had a successful career coaching soccer at South, and while he is uncertain of how long he will stay in his role as the head coach, he explains how he has thoroughly enjoyed his time coaching for south.

“I have really enjoyed my experiences here at [South],” Daniels said. “I have made a ton of friends and it has been a pleasure to work with the [other faculty members]. I have been really fortunate to work with South and their athletes. It has been a good run, a fun ride. I don’t know how long I will be doing this as far as head coaching, but I still enjoy representing our school’s soccer program and there is still work to be done.”