In this new series, we’re highlighting AO members who work to unite and strengthen their communities – whether it’s through soccer or another activity.
Pictured above: Michael Brehm cheers the USWNT to victory over Germany in the 2015 Women’s World Cup semifinal alongside his children, Justin and Jacklyn. Both played soccer for Shaker High in Latham, N.Y., where Brehm has coached for the past decade.
AO Albany’s Michael Brehm is helping to grow the game on multiple fronts in Upstate New York – even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
For the past 10 years, he has coached soccer at Shaker High School in Latham, N.Y.; the next season will be his third as head coach of the Bison varsity girls’ team. As in-person practices are not allowed for the time being, Brehm has gotten a bit creative in making sure his players keep up their form.
Each week, he sends them a set of exercises – a distance run, push-ups and juggling, for example – to complete and then enter on a Google document.
The “Fun Runs,” as Brehm calls them, have been well-received by the players.
“The kids are adapting,” he said. “Hopefully [COVID-19] goes away, but we remind them to be patient, follow the rules, and stay positive.”
Brehm also makes sure his players give back. In the past, they’ve participated in fundraisers for the American Cancer Society and the local food bank, or volunteered as coaches and referees for a special needs league.
Brehm’s influence in the local soccer community is not limited to Shaker High. Last year, he became girls’ director of the Latham Circle Soccer Club, an organization that includes rec and travel teams from the U8 level up.
Regardless of age and the level of competition, Brehm’s goal remains the same.
“No. 1 is having fun,” he said. “As long as they’re having fun, the kids come back. That’s why we try to infuse a love for the game and the rewards of hard work.”
Like all American Outlaws, Brehm is quick to share his passion for our national teams with just about anyone – and his teams are no exception. He challenges his older players to watch as many U.S. Women’s National Team games as they can – where better to learn than from the best? – and also aims to instill fandom at an early age.
“I want the little kids to see how exciting it is,” he said. “I want our national team games to become ‘can’t-miss’ events, like with their dads watching the NFL.”
Do you know of an AO member who’s making a difference in the community? We want to hear about it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.