Janesville soccer dad has come a long way
Believe it or not, the 56 year-old Schansberg says it’s been rewarding.
Twenty-seven years ago, Schansberg began coaching the oldest of his five children, Erika, when she was a 5-year-old in a Janesville YMCA soccer program.
“I didn’t know a great deal about soccer back then,” Schansberg said.
As Erika moved up the soccer ladder, Schansberg became a student of the game.
“Erika started to play for some very competitive teams in the Milwaukee area,” Schansberg said. “She played with the Milwaukee Kickers national team, and that was three practices a night in Milwaukee, plus games all over the Midwest.
“I was kind of a captive audience and learned as much as I could and stole as much as I could from the coaches in that great program. That’s what helped me to understand the game and start to love it.’’
Schansberg channeled his experience into Janesville’s soccer programs, coaching his other daughters, Dana, Kyla and Lora, and his son, Dan, along the way.
Erika, a three-year all-state player for Janesville Craig, played NCAA Division I soccer for Auburn University. Kyla also received a soccer scholarship.
Dad didn’t stop coaching the local youth programs and plans on to remain with the program for as long as he is welcome.
Schansberg helped form the Janesville United Soccer Club, and he continued after Janesville United and Rock Futbol combined to form the Rock Soccer Club.
Schansberg coaches 6- and 7-year-olds and a high school program for the Rock club.
“I’m not sure which one is more mature,” Schansberg said with a laugh.
Bill McCabe, Craig’s girls soccer coach, thinks Schansberg is one of a kind.
“In 27 years, he has been involved in Janesville soccer like nobody else,” McCabe said. “He does everything.’’
“No” or “can’t” are not part of Schansberg’s vocabulary.
“I have a problem saying ‘no,’ ” Schansberg said. “I feel committed to the kids. You start with a new group, and then you want to see them be successful, and you take them up through high school. It just gets in your blood.’’
McCabe said Schansberg has a keen interest in developing players as individuals.
“We talk almost daily about developing kids and the right approach to take,” McCabe said. “Each player is different.’’
Schansberg said Janesville’s soccer programs are steadily improving because of more parent involvement.
“The kids are much better at a younger age now,” Schansberg said. “I think part of that is their parents are getting involved at early ages now.
“The one thing I notice now is that our parents really understand the game, which is refreshing. They are not yelling and hollering at the refs. They understand what’s going on.’’
During Schansberg’s tenure, the local soccer programs have made changes. He is confident that Janesville soccer has direction that it lacked in the past.
“Janesville soccer meandered through those years a little bit,” Schansberg said. “There was no direction of the clubs. Now it’s there. There is a feeder program, and the kids are learning fundamentals.’’
Schansberg said soccer offers more than athletic competition.
“It’s a tremendous sport for kids,” Schansberg said. “It teaches kids to think for themselves. There are no stoppages in play. There are no timeouts. The coaches really have to get their jobs done in practice.
“The kids really have to figure it out for themselves, and I think it teaches them to think, to think quickly and make decisions fast, which obviously carries through beyond soccer.’’