Dean Linke sits down for a conversation with our Native American Coaches Advocacy Group Chair, Chris Behler. A transcription of this video can be found below:
Dean Linke: Time now again for the United Soccer Coaches Advocacy Community Spotlight, as we spend time with the Chair of the Native American Coaches Advocacy Group for United Soccer Coaches, he is Chris Behler. Chris welcome to your spotlight.
Chris Behler: Hey, glad to be here. Thank you for this time.
Dean Linke: Now well this is exciting because more and more we are paying attention to the needs and desires of Native Americans. Obviously, this role was important to you. Talk about some of the things you’ve accomplished in your role as Chair and maybe some of the things you’re looking forward to in 2021.
Chris Behler: You know some of the things that, when I took over as chair, all I wanted to do was continue the tradition of what the previous chairs had already done in this and that was helping inspire our Native communities, whether that be players, whether that be coaches, and helping them to achieve success for them. And that is kind of where we started 2020 at, previous to that. Obviously, with the virus our big thing this year and what we accomplished was helping the Native communities in just finding simple funding, you know, medicine, staying safe. Even trying to find some exercise. Where they were closing down a lot of the reservations and communities around. They weren’t letting anybody in, they weren’t letting anybody off. It was tough obviously to get there and help them. However, we were able to help in many, many ways and it brings pride to me to be able to do that. Some of the goals we have coming up for 2021, we really want to celebrate our Native background and really do something big for heritage month, Native American Heritage Month. We want to do something big for Indigenous Day. We’re trying to partner with different organizations and helping to achieve that and right now I think we’ve got something wonderful going with one of the MLS teams and we’ve done some stuff in the past, but they’ve really kind of jumped on board. And I think we’re going to try and do something big with them this year and maybe in years to come it will grow into more MLS clubs and the NWSL clubs and USL clubs wanting to do something as well and you never know. It’ll spin off and be something big.
Dean Linke: I like that you mentioned NWSL clubs, because Madison Hammond is the only Native American in the NWSL. Her mom is a big hitter fighting COVID. Her mom’s brother is Notah Begay, which is great, right, for Native Americans. That’s a big hitter.
Chris Behler: Yeah, n this year we actually brought on NBII. Notah’s brother Clint is actually on our committee now. So he’s been part of that and helping. Madison, I don’t know if I want to let the cat out of the bag, but she is actually going to be a guest speaker for us this year at our social. Which is huge. We also are working on another guest speaker that is on the men’s side, but I think both of them being Native American would be very big for us and huge for everybody to want to be part of our social and hear what they have to say. So yeah, it’s great to talk about NWSL and Madison is going to be huge for us. She has a lot moving forward for her.
Dean Linke: I know you love your role as Chair, but it’s got to warm your heart how United Soccer Coaches truly does wrap their arms around everybody. Doesn’t matter your gender, doesn’t matter religion, doesn’t matter the color of your skin, right?
Chris Behler: That’s true. You know, growing up I’ve always looked at this, look we all belong to one religion and that one religion is soccer. The game of futbol. You know, we get to enjoy that every weekend and you know, I guess I look back and go “well am I going Sunday to my game or am I going to church?” and you try and do both. But yeah you don’t look at color of skin, you don’t look background, you don’t look at gender, you don’t look at anything. I mean, this is one big sport and the power of this sport brings us all together.
Dean Linke: Amen. Soccer is our religion. In our final thirty seconds, if there are some Native Americans that are out there going wait they’ve got a group for me within United Soccer Coaches, how can I get involved How can they get involved?
Chris Behler: Biggest way is to contact me. My information is on the United Soccer Coaches website. I guess am I allowed to give it out through here?
Dean Linke: Yeah, go ahead.
Chris Behler: I would contact me on my email address Christopher.firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to listen to what you have to day. You don’t have to be a Native American coach, but just somehow involved in the game with Native Americans or wanting to get involved. Throughout the country we have everybody from college coaches, to high school coaches, to club coaches, to just somebody jumping into the game and we are always looking for, I guess you’d say, the future of our association.
Dean Linke: Soccer’s our religion. Chris Behler thanks for being with us.