Aidan Bozak wouldn’t say he has the coaching bug. But he does love the game of soccer enough that he’d prefer to make it his full-time job someday.
A standard 9-to-5 gig just doesn’t suit him.
That’s why when others his age might be busy looking for a summer job, the 19-year-old Bay High graduate who recently completed his freshman year at John Carroll University is getting ready to launch youth soccer clinics in his hometown.
“I want to work on my own schedule, and this is the perfect idea,” he said. “I know how to play, I can express it to the youth and it makes me happy because I can see these kids having fun and also getting better.”
Bozak, a computer science major and midfielder for the Blue Streaks men’s soccer team, was a decorated player for the Rockets before graduating in 2020. During his senior season in the fall of 2019, he was among team leaders with eight goals and 14 assists. He was a First Team selection for both the All-Great Lakes Conference and All-Ohio awards.
At the urging of Rockets head boys soccer coach Bobby Dougherty, as well as his father, Bill, Bozak thought of running clinics last summer for small groups of kids as a way to get them outside and active – at the appropriate social distance – while the COVID-19 pandemic forced club teams and soccer camps all over to shut down.
He got his coaching license, then started training small groups of 3-10 children, ranging in age from 5-11, at Walker Park from mid-June to early August. Because the pandemic had kept kids cooped up for months, he emphasized fun over skillwork.
“Last year we started off with drills, but I wanted it to be more of a fun thing,” Bozak said. “Last year was tough with COVID. It was tough for everyone, so I just wanted the kids to have fun. When we ran drills I made sure they were fun.”
The response last summer was overwhelming for Bozak, who’d never run a clinic before. He started off with a handful of attendees, set up through a friend of his mother, Gretchen, then eventually worked with nearly 70 kids after he advertised himself on the Secret Bay Village Facebook page.
With last year serving as a learning experience, Bozak is ready to run more efficient clinics this year that will maintain the fun aspect but still help those attending improve their game.
“I want to work on more drills, but also have fun,” Bozak said. “Last year I just wanted the kids to enjoy it, but this year I want to help these kids get better.”
The exact dates for the clinics are unknown, as Bozak intends to work around the camp run each year by Dougherty. His clinics will run each day during the morning, and several locations are being discussed, including the Bay High School field, a field behind the high school itself and Walker and Cahoon parks. It will cost $20 for ages 10 and up, $15 for those under 10 and $10 for anyone who signs up along with their siblings.
Bozak has gained valuable coaching experience while also remaining an active player. Once he earned his coaching license, he ran Dougherty’s U-9 and U-12 club travel teams.
He will return to action for JCU in mid-August when team practices officially begin.
Anyone interested in signing up for the clinics is encouraged to text 440-520-6124.
Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-871-5797.