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SOCCER DAD!

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by Jeanne Muchnick

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Standing on the edge of a soccer field in a rugby shirt and sweats, cleats and shin guards at the ready should a ball go out of range, Dan Cherico bears little resemblance to the globe-trotting consultant he once was, brokering high-powered deals for VocalTec Communications, Ltd. Now, as owner/partner of Mercury Soccer, he is more mellow — more like the guy next door you knew would succeed in business, but whose real passion has always been sports. Specifically, soccer. Cherico, who played soccer at Yale as well as on international teams post-college, admits soccer has always been his passion, but says he never thought it could translate into a business. That is, until he got laid off two years ago and started to rethink what he really wanted to do with his life. “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. “When this happened, I pursued a lot of different angles and did a lot of thinking.” Having a young daughter helped shape his thoughts. “I almost missed Katie being born because I had been in Brazil with my job at the time,” he recalls. “Thankfully, I made it home to see her, but if she had been born nine hours earlier, I would have missed it altogether.” His daughter’s birth was the wakeup call he needed to realize there were other professions that could better accommodate his family life. But it took a while. “I’m embarrassed to admit this now — and I can’t believe I did this — but a few days after Katie was born, I took off on a 10-day business trip to Latin America,” he says. Not long after that, he spent a month in Asia. “Professionally, it was exciting,” he admits, “but I missed a lot of ‘firsts’, like Katie’s first tooth, and the first time she stood on her own.” With friends already entrenched in various soccer pursuits — childhood friend Mark Silvester trains the Scarsdale Youth Soccer Club, and Erhardt Kapp owns a soccer supply store in Mamaroneck — Cherico decided to try that route as well. The three partners formed Mercury Soccer in late 200l, and have since trained more than 45 youth soccer teams from seven soccer clubs in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties. Now, instead of rising at dawn, putting on a suit, and rushing to catch a plane, Cherico spends his mornings with his kids — daughter Katie is now almost three; son Louis is eight months old — feeding them breakfast, dressing them, and driving them to daycare. He works part of his day at his New City home doing paperwork, billing, and marketing, as well as grocery shopping and other errands his schoolteacher wife assigns him before she goes to work. By early afternoon, he heads to the soccer fields for various training sessions and practices. Mercury’s main focus is working with local club teams such as Westchester Youth Soccer League, American Youth Soccer Organization, and East Hudson Soccer League. Parents primarily coach the teams, but since they are often not available during the week, Mercury does the training. The company rents space from local colleges and churches, and trains kids ranging from third-graders to high school seniors. A fee for professional training is often included in the soccer club fee. Mercury also runs clinics for children who don’t participate in club soccer; individual instruction is also available. On top of that, the company runs summer camps, coaching clinics, personal training, pre-season camps and indoor training. Dan and his partners hope to expand geographically and strategically as well, and Mercury recently became a distributor for a company that makes soccer field equipment. A line of soccer training videos is another futuristic goal. “Soccer is exploding and there’s much more interest in it now than there was when I was a kid,” explains Cherico. “A lot of parents didn’t grow up playing soccer so they don’t know all the technicalities of the game. At the same time that we’re teaching the kids, we’re also educating the parents. We want to keep the parents involved, to complement and supplement what they are already doing.” He compares his meetings with parents to the ones he used to have with international clients, noting that both require an understanding of the market and building relationships. The best part of his job, Cherico stresses, is training children, coaches and parents. “Our philosophy is: ‘Have fun,’” he says. “We also work hard to foster good sportsmanship and team play, as well as to teach dedication and respect for teammates, coaches, officials and opponents.” Each session starts with a lesson plan. “We approach every season with a concrete developmental path, so parents are aware of what we’re doing, and so are the kids,” Cherico says. “Of course, we amend it depending on the abilities of the club. But our main goal is to teach.” Cherico is very professional about how he handles his staff and his goals, and you can tell that the corporate part of him is not completely gone. Yet, watching him on the sidelines, you can also tell that he’s content with the decisions he’s made. And though he admits his income is not what it used to be (the company just finished its second season and is still getting off the ground), he appreciates that he’s more imbedded in his community and is proud that he’s followed his dream. “I’d say it’s part circumstance that I’m here, part courage and part sacrifice,” he says. “I don’t think I’d be here if I hadn’t gotten laid off. And it took a lot more courage for me to start a new business than for me to have gone back to a corporate job. But I’m happy to be doing it. Otherwise, I always would have wondered, ‘What if…?’” For more information, call Mercury Soccer at (914) 777-7101, or go to www.mercurysoccer.com. Standing on the edge of a soccer field in a rugby shirt and sweats, cleats and shin guards at the ready should a ball go out of range, Dan Cherico bears little resemblance to the globe-trotting consultant he once was, brokering high-powered deals for VocalTec Communications, Ltd. Now, as owner/partner of Mercury Soccer, he is more mellow — more like the guy next door you knew would succeed in business, but whose real passion has always been sports. Specifically, soccer. Cherico, who played soccer at Yale as well as on international teams post-college, admits soccer has always been his passion, but says he never thought it could translate into a business. That is, until he got laid off two years ago and started to rethink what he really wanted to do with his life. “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. “When this happened, I pursued a lot of different angles and did a lot of thinking.” Having a young daughter helped shape his thoughts. “I almost missed Katie being born because I had been in Brazil with my job at the time,” he recalls. “Thankfully, I made it home to see her, but if she had been born nine hours earlier, I would have missed it altogether.” His daughter’s birth was the wakeup call he needed to realize there were other professions that could better accommodate his family life. But it took a while. “I’m embarrassed to admit this now — and I can’t believe I did this — but a few days after Katie was born, I took off on a 10-day business trip to Latin America,” he says. Not long after that, he spent a month in Asia. “Professionally, it was exciting,” he admits, “but I missed a lot of ‘firsts’, like Katie’s first tooth, and the first time she stood on her own.” With friends already entrenched in various soccer pursuits — childhood friend Mark Silvester trains the Scarsdale Youth Soccer Club, and Erhardt Kapp owns a soccer supply store in Mamaroneck — Cherico decided to try that route as well. The three partners formed Mercury Soccer in late 200l, and have since trained more than 45 youth soccer teams from seven soccer clubs in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties. Now, instead of rising at dawn, putting on a suit, and rushing to catch a plane, Cherico spends his mornings with his kids — daughter Katie is now almost three; son Louis is eight months old — feeding them breakfast, dressing them, and driving them to daycare. He works part of his day at his New City home doing paperwork, billing, and marketing, as well as grocery shopping and other errands his schoolteacher wife assigns him before she goes to work. By early afternoon, he heads to the soccer fields for various training sessions and practices. Mercury’s main focus is working with local club teams such as Westchester Youth Soccer League, American Youth Soccer Organization, and East Hudson Soccer League. Parents primarily coach the teams, but since they are often not available during the week, Mercury does the training. The company rents space from local colleges and churches, and trains kids ranging from third-graders to high school seniors. A fee for professional training is often included in the soccer club fee. Mercury also runs clinics for children who don’t participate in club soccer; individual instruction is also available. On top of that, the company runs summer camps, coaching clinics, personal training, pre-season camps and indoor training. Dan and his partners hope to expand geographically and strategically as well, and Mercury recently became a distributor for a company that makes soccer field equipment. A line of soccer training videos is another futuristic goal. “Soccer is exploding and there’s much more interest in it now than there was when I was a kid,” explains Cherico. “A lot of parents didn’t grow up playing soccer so they don’t know all the technicalities of the game. At the same time that we’re teaching the kids, we’re also educating the parents. We want to keep the parents involved, to complement and supplement what they are already doing.” He compares his meetings with parents to the ones he used to have with international clients, noting that both require an understanding of the market and building relationships. The best part of his job, Cherico stresses, is training children, coaches and parents. “Our philosophy is: ‘Have fun,’” he says. “We also work hard to foster good sportsmanship and team play, as well as to teach dedication and respect for teammates, coaches, officials and opponents.” Each session starts with a lesson plan. “We approach every season with a concrete developmental path, so parents are aware of what we’re doing, and so are the kids,” Cherico says. “Of course, we amend it depending on the abilities of the club. But our main goal is to teach.” Cherico is very professional about how he handles his staff and his goals, and you can tell that the corporate part of him is not completely gone. Yet, watching him on the sidelines, you can also tell that he’s content with the decisions he’s made. And though he admits his income is not what it used to be (the company just finished its second season and is still getting off the ground), he appreciates that he’s more imbedded in his community and is proud that he’s followed his dream. “I’d say it’s part circumstance that I’m here, part courage and part sacrifice,” he says. “I don’t think I’d be here if I hadn’t gotten laid off. And it took a lot more courage for me to start a new business than for me to have gone back to a corporate job. But I’m happy to be doing it. Otherwise, I always would have wondered, ‘What if…?’” For more information, call Mercury Soccer at (914) 777-7101, or go to www.mercurysoccer.com. Standing on the edge of a soccer field in a rugby shirt and sweats, cleats and shin guards at the ready should a ball go out of range, Dan Cherico bears little resemblance to the globe-trotting consultant he once was, brokering high-powered deals for VocalTec Communications, Ltd. Now, as owner/partner of Mercury Soccer, he is more mellow — more like the guy next door you knew would succeed in business, but whose real passion has always been sports. Specifically, soccer. Cherico, who played soccer at Yale as well as on international teams post-college, admits soccer has always been his passion, but says he never thought it could translate into a business. That is, until he got laid off two years ago and started to rethink what he really wanted to do with his life. “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. “When this happened, I pursued a lot of different angles and did a lot of thinking.” Having a young daughter helped shape his thoughts. “I almost missed Katie being born because I had been in Brazil with my job at the time,” he recalls. “Thankfully, I made it home to see her, but if she had been born nine hours earlier, I would have missed it altogether.” His daughter’s birth was the wakeup call he needed to realize there were other professions that could better accommodate his family life. But it took a while. “I’m embarrassed to admit this now — and I can’t believe I did this — but a few days after Katie was born, I took off on a 10-day business trip to Latin America,” he says. Not long after that, he spent a month in Asia. “Professionally, it was exciting,” he admits, “but I missed a lot of ‘firsts’, like Katie’s first tooth, and the first time she stood on her own.” With friends already entrenched in various soccer pursuits — childhood friend Mark Silvester trains the Scarsdale Youth Soccer Club, and Erhardt Kapp owns a soccer supply store in Mamaroneck — Cherico decided to try that route as well. The three partners formed Mercury Soccer in late 200l, and have since trained more than 45 youth soccer teams from seven soccer clubs in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties. Now, instead of rising at dawn, putting on a suit, and rushing to catch a plane, Cherico spends his mornings with his kids — daughter Katie is now almost three; son Louis is eight months old — feeding them breakfast, dressing them, and driving them to daycare. He works part of his day at his New City home doing paperwork, billing, and marketing, as well as grocery shopping and other errands his schoolteacher wife assigns him before she goes to work. By early afternoon, he heads to the soccer fields for various training sessions and practices. Mercury’s main focus is working with local club teams such as Westchester Youth Soccer League, American Youth Soccer Organization, and East Hudson Soccer League. Parents primarily coach the teams, but since they are often not available during the week, Mercury does the training. The company rents space from local colleges and churches, and trains kids ranging from third-graders to high school seniors. A fee for professional training is often included in the soccer club fee. Mercury also runs clinics for children who don’t participate in club soccer; individual instruction is also available. On top of that, the company runs summer camps, coaching clinics, personal training, pre-season camps and indoor training. Dan and his partners hope to expand geographically and strategically as well, and Mercury recently became a distributor for a company that makes soccer field equipment. A line of soccer training videos is another futuristic goal. “Soccer is exploding and there’s much more interest in it now than there was when I was a kid,” explains Cherico. “A lot of parents didn’t grow up playing soccer so they don’t know all the technicalities of the game. At the same time that we’re teaching the kids, we’re also educating the parents. We want to keep the parents involved, to complement and supplement what they are already doing.” He compares his meetings with parents to the ones he used to have with international clients, noting that both require an understanding of the market and building relationships. The best part of his job, Cherico stresses, is training children, coaches and parents. “Our philosophy is: ‘Have fun,’” he says. “We also work hard to foster good sportsmanship and team play, as well as to teach dedication and respect for teammates, coaches, officials and opponents.” Each session starts with a lesson plan. “We approach every season with a concrete developmental path, so parents are aware of what we’re doing, and so are the kids,” Cherico says. “Of course, we amend it depending on the abilities of the club. But our main goal is to teach.” Cherico is very professional about how he handles his staff and his goals, and you can tell that the corporate part of him is not completely gone. Yet, watching him on the sidelines, you can also tell that he’s content with the decisions he’s made. And though he admits his income is not what it used to be (the company just finished its second season and is still getting off the ground), he appreciates that he’s more imbedded in his community and is proud that he’s followed his dream. “I’d say it’s part circumstance that I’m here, part courage and part sacrifice,” he says. “I don’t think I’d be here if I hadn’t gotten laid off. And it took a lot more courage for me to start a new business than for me to have gone back to a corporate job. But I’m happy to be doing it. Otherwise, I always would have wondered, ‘What if…?’” For more information, call Mercury Soccer at (914) 777-7101, or go to www.mercurysoccer.com.

 


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