Meet the new Assistant Coach, Paul Mark Huckett (24), of the men’s soccer team at BU. Huckett has played soccer in places such as England, Australia, and the US. Currently, he focuses on coaching but he hopes that his past experiences as a player will give him good ballast and a good start at BU.
Hopefully, Huckett will be a substantial re-enforcement to the team’s staff. He certainly has good credentials! He currently coaches at BU but he is a native Englishman from Grimsby Town on the North East coast of England.
For Huckett, the interest in soccer began at a very early age. When he was about 4 years old he started going to soccer camps during the summers. Those camps laid the foundation for his passion nowadays. Also, his dad was an important influence – he used to play when he was a kid and this obviously rubbed off on his son.
All the way through school, soccer has been a major part of Huckett’s life. He used to play in the youth program for Nottingham Forrest which is a big and successful club in England. After that he played for the reserve team in Grimsby Town in its youth program.
He had to play for the reserve team at Grimsby Town because collegiate rules imply that you cannot previously have played professionally if you want to play college soccer. And that was a goal for Huckett. However, he was lucky enough to get to play a friendly match for the first team in front of quite a few thousand fans at the home field. It was a great experience for him but as he says: “I was so nervous!”
He probably could have gotten a professional contract with a team in England and follow a career as a player but he made a deliberate choice to keep his amateur status.
Also, at Grimsby Town the team had a few rituals. After each game, the best player of the game would get a small trophy but the funniest ritual was if you had done something stupid,
“We also had a yellow pinny. It wasn’t to do with the performance on the field but if someone did something quite stupid, like drop all the water bottles so no one would have any water, then that person had to wear the pinny for the full week or up until the next game. But it was good fun and great for team spirit”
Why the US?
At Grimsby Town there is a strong tradition that players can go to The Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania to study and play. People have always done well in its program and Huckett, at the age of 20, felt ready to go abroad. Even though going alone to another country was appealing in itself to him, a full scholarship at Lock Haven really was too good to turn down.
While at Lock Haven, Huckett took his undergrad in Recreation Management and not to forget, according to buhuskies.com, he played 77 games scoring 36 goals, which made him 10th all time at Lock Haven. “My fascination is scoring goals – that is what I love to do” Huckett said during the interview and he certainly scored lot of goals at Lock Haven.
After Lock Haven, Huckett spent close to a year in Perth, Australia doing an internship at the football federation called Football West. At FW he was a youth development officer. He developed a soccer program focused towards children between the ages of 3-5. Huckett developed small games to help the kids get comfortable with the ball so that they would have a better chance when they started to play for real.
He submitted the program as his final project at FW and it was a great success. They still use it today and what made it stand out for Huckett, was his opportunity to both coach the program and develop it at the same time. All in all a fantastic experience for him and being able to go surfing everyday was one of the other perks. Besides his internship, Huckett also worked and played semi-professionally for the soccer club called Balcatta SC in Perth.
So, here we are at Bloomsburg University. Huckett chose to come here because it has always been an ambition for him to work with some great coaches and the Huskies’ Head Coach, Paul Payne, is indeed a good example. Not only is Payne the Head Coach for the Huskies, he is also the vice president of the NSCAA and in fact he is due to be the president next year.
Huckett is hoping that the experience he will get at BU over the following two full seasons will open some opportunities to follow a career within college soccer. If that is not the case, his backup plan is to make use of his current masters study in Instructional Technology.
What about the future?
In five years, Huckett hopes to have gotten a job as head coach at a college somewhere in the US. Furthermore, in ten years, he hopes to still be a head coach as well as having created a successful college soccer program.
Also, coaching a professional team somewhere in the world could be an option but first he wants to build his career in college soccer – get the much valued experience as well as all the needed coaching certificates.