Three years ago when I found out that I would be without the club it was crazy turn of events that brought me to Chicago City. After the Memorial Day Tournament I was approached by multiple clubs including CCSC. Later that week I met Nick through coach Slavo. After that interview with Chicago City I knew where I should continue to coach! I respected all other clubs, but I felt that CCSC has soul and it just felt right. I found likeminded people. I had a feeling that CCSC have huge potential and that will grow just because coaches and staff in it were doing things the right way. CCSC is standing by the same beliefs that I have.
When I came to Chicago 16 years ago, I didn’t want to commit to coaching for a long time. I was still hoping that I would play on a high level. It would be very hard to be on the bench and not be able to help the team.
Growing up in Serbia I joined FC Novi Sad (2nd division club) when I was 7 years old, because I really loved the game. Throughout my soccer development there I realized very quickly what is needed to become a high level player. Big expectations, hard work, no shortcuts and doing the things right way was recipe for success. I was part of the regional team (province team-part of the country, comparable to state team) in every stage of the youth program. When I was 17 years old, I signed first professional contract with my club and played there until I was 23 years old. At that time, my back-pain problems started. In that period I played a lot of games including 1 game for National team of Yugoslavia for U21.
My back injury was holding me down after that more and more seriously. At one point my physician told me “either stop playing or a wheelchair”. I found the way to get very fit and played one more year until we received opportunity to come to US. Here I played almost 2 seasons in Metropolitan league but after each game I was feeling my back pain was getting worse. With my pain level going through the roof I was forced to decide to quit playing for good. I was 27 at the time.
For the next 6-7 years It bothered me a lot that I can’t play. I was hoping that I will get better and play at the high level again. It took me awhile to realize “that train is gone” and to be ok with that.
I started coaching my daughter’s preschool class, just for kids to learn the game and have fun. After few sessions I was really enjoying coaching them and to see the progress it was really satisfying. That’s where I found my spark for soccer again, but this time, I was ok with being on the sideline :).
Throughout this playing/coaching journey one thing never changed and that’s “doing the things right”. It came back to haunt me few times, but I still believe that is the recipe to make a difference in this world and to be a better person!