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Sarah Carvajal/The Rider
Sarah Carvajal/The Rider

Name: Paul Leese

Sport: Men’s soccer

Title: Head Coach

Years Coaching: 24 (three at UTRGV)

Hometown: Liverpool, England

What’s your favorite part of coaching soccer? “I like the skill that’s involved with soccer. I cannot remember a time where I was not absorbed with soccer. Obviously, playing it as a kid, and now coaching, still allows me to be involved in the sport that I love.”

What’s your favorite place to eat off campus? “I’ve got to give a plug for the Centennial Club [Downtown McAllen]. I haven’t eaten at many places because I have two little boys, so they keep me attached to home, but the Centennial Club, I went out and it was just a fantastic place.”

How was the adjustment going from athlete to coach? “That’s been easy for me because I did it so long ago. You know, I came over and played at college when I was younger, too, and it’s been easy because I love the sport. I love watching games, analyzing games. I think as a player, I was very analytical, so it was a very natural path for me to go straight into coaching. The transition was very easy. I was even coaching young kids when I was playing, so it’s just been a natural extension.”

How do you feel coaching this team? “Very good, this year. We didn’t have a complete team last year because it was our first year, so we didn’t have the time or resources to find a full team. I’m really enjoying the group we have now. I think the players are starting to jell more together and because we’ve added more players, I think we’re now a more complete team, so it’s a lot of fun. The players are really committed. They’re very serious and that’s what I want in the players I recruit and the team. I want guys that are very committed to their soccer, very committed to their education and very committed to the university.”

Who is your favorite music artist? “I’m a big fan of the old ’70s R&B and Soul, so if I had to pick one, Curtis Mayfield is one I’m a fan of. Isaac Hayes is one I’m a big fan of. The Isley Brothers, I think they can do it all, so they are for me.”

Where would you go on your dream vacation? “I don’t even consider that, you know, but if I had to choose somewhere, it would have to be to watch a soccer game. It sounds sad, but soccer is just a passion and something that I love doing, so if you ask me dream vacation, it would be to go see Barcelona play in the New Camp stadium. So, to go to Barcelona, Spain, it would be primarily to watch F.C. Barcelona play.”

–Compiled by Sarah Carvajal

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