Park City soccer coach Tom Merchant receives top Utah honor from United Soccer Coaches
The United Soccer Coaches, the world’s largest association of soccer coaches, has named Park City High School’s Tom Merchant as its 2018 Utah High School Boys Coach of the Year.
Merchant, who has coached for almost 30 years, took over both the boys and girls teams four years ago, preceding Micaela Carriel’s tenure on the girls team that began in 2017. In the spring, the boys team and Merchant had their most successful season yet, reaching second place at the Class 4A state tournament after losing to Desert Hills 4-0 in the championship game at the Real Salt Lake Academy in Bluffdale.
A peer voting committee selected Merchant based on success on the field, knowledge of the game, involvement in the soccer community and how he represents himself and the Miners.
“It’s a nice honor to be recognized by them,” Merchant said of his fellow coaches, then was quick to add that success isn’t the product of one person.
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“I think it’s nice for the school, because it recognizes they are doing a good job,” he said. “If I had a bunch of miserable people around me, it wouldn’t be possible. I have good assistant coaches, a nice team and a supportive school, so that kind of stuff is what really makes it work.”
Merchant got his start as a soccer coach in New Jersey, where he coached for the Olympic Development Program as well as with club and high school teams. He was awarded the NSCAA (now United Soccer Coaches) National Youth Coach of the Year in 2005.
The award puts him in the running for National High School Boys Soccer Coach of the Year, which will be announced next January at the association’s convention in Chicago. Though he doesn’t expect to win that award, he is eagerly awaiting the state prize.
“I look at the mail every day,” he said.
This school year, Merchant anticipates another successful season for the Miners.
“We made it to the finals and we are looking to be in that situation again,” he said. “I talked to the seniors, just so we know where we’re headed, and that’s an exciting group.”
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.