Name: Gerry Montague
Current Position: Goalkeeper Coach, New York Red Bulls Regional Development Schools (RDS)
Years Coaching Goalkeepers: 13
What is your background?
I had an unremarkable playing career. I enjoyed some success at U16-U18 at a time when NJ produced several US national team players, played a year of college soccer then played in competitive men’s league around NYC for several years before finding a passion teaching the game. Goalkeepers are different, I’ve always been fascinated with trying to help them improve not only technically and tactically, but psychologically as well. I hold the USSF ‘B’ & Goalkeeping licenses and the NSCAA Premier and Advanced National Goalkeeping diplomas. I’ve coached for 17 years at club, high school, USSF Development Academy and DIII men’s college levels. I’m currently an NSCAA instructor in addition to working for New York Red Bulls.
What got you into coaching?
My youngest sister was an all-state athlete in 2 sports and earned college scholarship. When I moved into my first apartment in my early 20s, my upstairs neighbor was the father of one her former teammates. He remembered how good she was and asked if I would help coach his younger daughter’s team because the fathers who were coaching knew nothing about soccer. I definitely wasn’t a good coach but it introduced me to coaching.
What is your coaching philosophy?
My goal is creating players who are champions on and off the field. Any team sport is a great vehicle for teaching resilience, self-discipline, teamwork and accountability, all traits which are needed throughout life. We sadly live in a world where kids get trophies just for showing up, if they don’t start the on the team they are on now, mommy & daddy buy their way onto a new team. As a coach, I have the opportunity to help shape players’ values and help them understand life is not going to hand them everything they want. In addition to keeping them involved in sports or an active lifestyle which I hope they maintain throughout their life, I can have a positive impact well beyond the soccer field.
Who has been a mentor to your through your coaching career? Is there a coach who impacted you to get into coaching?
It’s hard to identify one mentor, I’ve been tremendously fortunate to work with coaches who’ve had a big impact on me. Bob Gansler and Nora Maguire-White are two names that immediately come to mind. I think the person who has done the most to help me develop as a coach is Dave Clarke, a USSF national staff instructor and women’s head coach at Quinnipiac University .
Do you feel that the role and importance of a goalkeeper coach has been fully realized in the coaching community?
At the elite club and college levels, they fully appreciate the benefit of a specialist coach to work with goalkeepers. I think the area where more can be done is at the grassroots level.
Looking back, how have you seen your coaching develop from when you first started to now?
The first coaches I had were from Germany , they were great teachers and instilled love of the game but the only goalkeeper coaching they offered was “stop the ball”. I’m very happy to see goalkeepers getting specialized training and they are no longer overlooked entirely or pushed off to a corner of the field to train alone. Incorporating goalkeepers as part of team training is helping develop the next generation of players.
How do you design your training sessions?
New York Red Bulls has a comprehensive goalkeeping curriculum for their pre-Academy players, I have the freedom to design sessions which teach the topics they’ve outlined. Outside of Red Bulls, I have a session I do to understand a goalkeeper’s technical baseline. I also work with their coaches to understand what they see in matches. I design sessions which reinforce what they do well but focus on developing the areas which need attention.
How do you motivate your keepers behind your first string to ensure competition for the position?
I make everything competitive. I track shots dropped, goals against, misplayed passes, every rebound is a loose ball and I want the other GKs hammering them into goal so I track how many 2nd chance goals are given up. Advanced players not getting playing time in matches need a way to show they can outperform the #1 and the #1 needs to feel pressure to keep their spot. With developmental players, everyone plays in every game but the best player that week gets the start.
What is your ultimate coaching goal?
I desperately want to get back into college soccer at the DI or DII level to recruit, develop, and build highly competitive teams. Having spent over 20 years working for Fortune 100 companies, I have a skill set which will not only help college goalkeepers be successful on the field but will help maximize their educational experience and prepare them for the real world far, far better than anyone in academia ever could. Watching student-athletes grow and develop as people then go on to pursue successful careers and lives outside the game is as rewarding to me as winning championships.
Any advice for young goalkeeper coaches just entering their careers?
The three best things they can do are encourage their goalkeepers, encourage their goalkeepers, and encourage their goalkeepers. Anyone can see a mistake, a good coach finds a way to help their goalkeepers get past it. No one wants to hear how good you think you were as a player, make your goal doing all you can to help them surpass the success you enjoyed as a goalkeeper.
If you weren’t a goalkeeper coach, what do you think you would be?
I’d have a lot more time to cycle, I’d be healthier but probably not happier. I can’t imagine not being involved in goalkeeping.