“Down in Vancouver people told me about Terrace and they made it sound like it was the outback, like it was people in tents which is very unfair, it’s a genuine place with genuine people that’s brilliant in its individuality,” said 27-year-old Adam Glass, former Terrace Youth Soccer Association (TYSA) technical director, inside TYSA’s Christy Park clubhouse.
His soccer journey has taken him from the behemoth city of London, U.K. to Vancouver, and all the way to comparatively tiny Terrace.
Back in England, Glass’s father was a warehouse worker and his mother worked for a school district. Glass played soccer, but never saw it as a potential career.
“I played as a kid but I never had an interest in going professional, it’s funny because I’m a coach now but I didn’t want it to become my life because I thought it would be overwhelming,” he said.
Tough economic times in the mid 2000s called for a big change, and his parents decided London wasn’t the place to be, that there was no future there for the family. In 2008, when Glass was 14, the family packed up and moved to Burnaby, but not before Glass got his first taste of coaching.
His soccer coach asked him to coach three and four-year-olds for a couple months before the move.
“Nobody wants to do it because it’s not really coaching, it’s just kids falling over and you’ve got to babysit them and when they cry you have to console them, but that’s how I started,” he said.
“I saw how much of a difference you could make and I really felt like if I committed to it and I did a good job educating myself properly in coaching, I could maybe make a difference over here.”
But when he arrived in B.C., Glass’s coaching ambitions were relegated to the sidelines for a few years while he finished high school. He didn’t think that coaching soccer could be a career in Canada until he volunteered to help coach a local club in Burnaby.
Glass slowly moved up the ladder, sometimes employed as a coach, sometimes volunteering. Eventually, he got to the point to where he was coaching full time at some of the bigger clubs in the Vancouver area.
Then, at a tournament in the United States, Glass saw a chance to reach the next level when he spotted Bart Choufour, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s pre-academy head coach.
“We were in a car-park and I see him, and I was like ‘when are you going to be in the same area as somebody who could give you an opportunity at a professional club again’ so I just went over and said ‘hi, I’m looking for some work.’”
The two exchanged contact information, and Glass didn’t expect much from his quick elevator pitch. But half-a-year later, he got a call to cover a shift and “it just went from there.”
He started with the Whitecaps organization in 2018 as an academy centre staff coach, and was tabbed to run the club’s northwest program. The Whitecaps only became involved with soccer in the northwest a couple years prior, so the organization was looking to Glass to provide some stability and a solid foundation. He arrived in Terrace in February 2019 with the title of northwest head coach, responsible for the entire northwest region.
Glass said the move was “genuinely shocking.”
“I think there’s 12, 13 million people in London,” he said. “In terms of the size of the town it was definitely an adjustment because you see people more often, in London you might see somebody once and never see them again, same in Vancouver. Here you see familiar faces, you can make a connection and you can get to know people so the conversations became more genuine.”
Glass said that the importance of community is something he’s learned since coming to Terrace. Compared to the big city, he said he takes more pride in what is going on in the town.
“I’ll read something in the newspaper and connect with it, versus in London you read something in the newspaper and you’ve never heard of that place, never heard of the people or didn’t even know that was a thing.”
In his work throughout the northwest, he is most proud of being a part of the local community. Glass said that he found building relationships is crucial and that it is important to help people, because it is the same people that would help him if he needed it.
Another eye-opener was the nature and outdoors Terrace has to offer — foreign concepts compared to his experience in London and even Vancouver. He didn’t know what it was to hike, fish or ski and found himself unprepared for those activities. Even learning to relax was new.
“I didn’t want to go to the lake, it seemed boring just laying there, I didn’t realize you could just go there and talk to someone for three or four hours or have hundreds of people there and that’s the experience.”
“In London you always have to be doing something on the go, just going going going, over here you can relax and it was difficult to do that because I’ve never done it before,” he said.
Glass ran programs throughout the northwest, including Haida Gwaii, which he recommends everyone visit if given the chance. But after setting a foundation with TYSA —and a few run-ins with bears on the soccer field — Glass made the decision to move on from the position. He said that the area needs someone who can commit long term and at this point in his career now is the time to take a shot at the professional coaching ranks.
“Professional is about results and competing and so it’s been a dream of mine to be a professional just to be in that environment.”
“If I was that type of person that was looking to commit to an area right now, Terrace, I’d have no problem with it, it’s so peaceful, it’s so quiet and I finally feel like I’ve sort of figured out how to exist in it.”
As part of the new chapter in Glass’s soccer story, he would like to work somewhere he hasn’t experienced yet, like Asia, Australia or elsewhere in Europe, but in the end it will depend on job opportunities.
“I’m open to anywhere, I’ve learned that everywhere has something to offer and you should never rule it out until you’ve embraced it, experienced it and given it a chance.”
“I’ve been to Calgary and I’ve been to Ontario and I’ve been to America, I’ve been to all these places but I’ve only ever seen the soccer field.”
Glass said that TYSA will continue to grow and have success, and that everyone involved does their best to make sure the players have a positive experience. He was touched by the hard work and dedication shown by everyone involved in the organization. When TYSA was short on volunteers this summer, board members stepped up to help even though they weren’t obligated to, which is something he’s never seen before at other clubs.
“The work and the commitment and what goes on here is unbelievable,” he said. And if his shot at the pros doesn’t work out, he’s not ruling out a return to Terrace.
“Next year there are so many good programs coming in, so many good ideas coming in, I’m excited for it,” he said.
“I wish I could be here for it and who knows, maybe I will be, I can’t tell the future, just really excited for what the club is going to be.”