SALT LAKE CITY- There are those people in life that are special, something about them is intriguing and admirable, and you can tell that whatever their craft, they pour their heart and soul into it. One of these people is Bruce Cuppett, originally from Pipestone, Minnesota, Cuppett is a retired military veteran, soccer coach, and an important person in the development of Utah Youth Soccer Association.
“My dad worked for American Oil Company so about every two years we would move,” says Cuppett. “I went to three elementaries, two junior highs, and three high schools.” It wasn’t always easy. “I was a trouble maker when I was in school,” Cuppett says, adding that he “walking the thin line, on the good side and the bad side,” always trying to balance the fun. Occasionally, he’d “get slapped, and then get back in line,” he says.
Cuppett finished high school in Detroit in 1964, where he began junior college and building muscle cars. He then enlisted in the army in 1966, and was on active duty until 1972. Cuppett finished college, with a degree in business management, and rejoined the military until 1999 where he retired after thirty years.
“I never played soccer when I was growing up, when I went into the service is when I learned to play soccer,” Cuppett says. After moving to Utah in 1991, Cuppett’s son Andrew tried every sport but fell in love with soccer and started playing for the American Youth Soccer Organization. Andrew had a great first year coach said Cuppett, but his second-year coach was a “flake.” Concerned, the team parents nominated Cuppett as the new coach because he was the parent who knew the most about soccer. He was unlicensed for a short time, but he soon began moving through his first licensure on his way to becoming a better coach and to understanding the youth game.
So how is it he began coaching girls? Cuppett got a call from Sparta founder Ben Vandenhazel asking him to come and coach a girls’ team. “I don’t know anything about girls” Cuppett said, but he decided to take on the challenge. Years later, Cuppett is still coaching girls soccer, “It’s a much different game, to me it’s a game that I appreciate more than the boys game. I think the girls game is about working, about possessing the ball, looking for a seem in the defense and attacking the goal. Where boys typically are win the ball, and go to the goal all the time.” He described it as a prettier game, but harder to coach. “What I tell the older girls when I work with them was ‘you wanna get into college using your brains, because if you get hurt and you’re on academic scholarship your scholarship its still there’. It doesn’t matter if you’re on crutches or whatever, if you get there going the other way, and something happens you’re usually going to lose your scholarship.”
It can be hard to persevere in the sport. “Because you’re going to lose at some point,” says Anthony Frost, Marketer at UYSA. “You’re going to have the hard days at some point, you’re going to have hard times and ya gotta keep going.”
The key is that “ya gotta love it and ya gotta work it,” says Cuppett. “I believe athletes, when they train properly become very good in society because they are good at hitting bench marks along the way, which helps develop their skills to have in life.” An athlete needs to dedicate their own time to the game, he says.
Cuppett tries to teach his players to problem-solve and to be resilient. “If you’re in the real world and ya got a great job, and ya get a new boss, and the new boss is an absolute idiot, are ya gonna throw everything away? Or are ya gonna try figure out how to work with this person and how to continue. Because you’re on a good path right now and you don’t want to go back out and start all over again.”
Friend and Administrative Director of Coaching at UYSA, Holly Gundred, commented “as a team learning how to deal with heartbreak, you learn to take that and what do you do? You apply it and move on.”
Sports, much like life, is like a roller coaster, says Cuppett. “I think sports teaches you that every day it’s a win lose situation. How well you did in practice? How well you did in a match, ya know? how well did ya feel going into it?” If he can teach his players to be introspective, that’s when Cuppett will feel like he’s done his job.
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