Hart, Vincent Interview, 1980 February 21. OH-00801. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Standardized Rights Statement
University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart i An Interview with Vincent “Vince” Hart An Oral History Conducted by Andrew Bannister Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas Special Collections and Archives Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada, Las Vegas University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart ii © Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2018 University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart iii The Oral History Research Center (OHRC) was formally established by the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada System in September 2003 as an entity of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries’ Special Collections Division. The OHRC conducts oral interviews with individuals who are selected for their ability to provide first-hand observations on a variety of historical topics in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. The OHRC is also home to legacy oral history interviews conducted prior to its establishment including many conducted by University of Nevada, Las Vegas History Professor Ralph Roske and his students. This legacy interview transcript received minimal editing, such as the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. The interviewee/narrator was not involved in the editing process. University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart iv Abstract On February 21, 1980, Andrew Bannister interviewed Vincent “Vince” Hart (born on July 7, 1945 in Jerusalem, Palestine) in Hart’s office about his experience with youth soccer, both as a coach and as a player. Hart discusses his family background and his residential history in the United Kingdom and the United States before explaining the development of the men’s soccer team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He describes his impact on the program and his hopes for future student athletes. The two then delve into a discussion of the fundamentals of soccer and different strategies that are commonly used. They then conclude with a brief description of Vince’s experiences with meeting a variety of professional soccer players at the Las Vegas Stadium.University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 1 Okay, this is Andrew Bannister interviewing Vince Hart. Vince, why did you come to Las Vegas? My family moved here in 1962 from San Francisco and of course I was in school at the time—in high school, so we came along as a family. Where are you originally from? I was born in Jerusalem, Palestine at the end of the Second World War. My father is English, he was in the army in North Africa and my mother was a German refugee and they met there. I was born in Jerusalem and then we moved to England when I was about four or five months old. Are you Catholic or Jewish? I was brought up as an Anglican—the Church of England—which I imagine is something like Episcopalian. But I am not religious at all and I do not follow any particular religion. Are you married; any children? Yes, I’m married and my wife’s name is Diane. She’s a Native American from Illinois, and I have a six year old son, Trevor. What’s your address? 1-9-5-0 Roan Ave. 8-9-1-1-9. Tell me a little bit – Tell me a little about your background. Well, as I said, I was born in Jerusalem, and my parents moved to England right after the war in in 1945-46. And my mother couldn’t speak English. We lived in England and my brother was a British subject, and so was I until 1960. I grew up and went to school there and learned to play soccer there, I guess. Is this in England? University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 2 In England. We moved to the United States to San Francisco in 1960 and I continued my high school education there; in 1962 we moved to Las Vegas with my dad’s business. Where did you first learn to play soccer in? Learn? I imagine just by playing in England. I had very little coaching other than my father who was a professional player at one time. He played for Liege United – at that time the English second division. And many, many famous soccer players had gathered or come to my house at one time or another when I was a real small boy. So I guess I just learned by playing and being around those people while I was in England. Did you have any major injuries while you were playing? (Unintelligible) Not while I was young. I broke my left ankle twice in my career. I had a torn cartilage that didn’t need to be operated on and just some normal knocks and bruises. I hear that you’re a high school graduate from Las Vegas High School. Yes, I came here from ’62. At the end of 1962 and spent four months at Las Vegas High School and graduated from there. Have you played soccer there? No, there was no soccer in high school when I first came to Nevada. So what did you do, you know—? I didn’t play any sports at all. It was the first time in my life I was ever a good student. Did you win any trophies or any types of medal while you were in school? Well, yes. In San Francisco when I moved here I was an all-city soccer player in high school and in 1961 I played on an under nineteen – I was sixteen at the time— an under nineteen junior team that won the national championship. From San Francisco we played in Philadelphia and we won that one. And – that was about it, as a youth, I guess. University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 3 Are you playing any higher levels than just high school or elementary? I was given a scholarship to the University of San Francisco out of high school. The coach from San Francisco – the coach now— was my under nineteen coach; but I didn’t take it. I moved to New Zealand and Australia and I played semi-professional in New Zealand and then professional in Australia for nine months. What is your occupation at the present time? I’m a part time coach at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a full time teacher at the Clark County School District. Do they have soccer here at this school? Not in junior high school, not yet. They are – We’ve been in the talking stages for a couple of years, they’re trying to replace track and field in junior high school with soccer. What other occupations have you had besides being the – I had lots of jobs. I’ve been a milkman; I was a salesperson all the way through college. You said milkman? Yes, I was in sales all the way through college at different department stores in men’s clothing stores. In fact, I was a manager of a men’s clothing department in a big store “The Broadway,” and that was when I decided to go to college and get out of that stuff. Can you tell me how many years you have been coaching for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas soccer team? I’m in the middle of my fourth year. Can you tell me a little bit of background about that? When I started, the program was two years old. A gentleman by the name of Tom Khamis started the University of Nevada, Las Vegas program and it was a club sport for I imagine seven, or University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 4 eight, or nine years. Before that, very, very, weak and ineffective and used to play in city adult league and was always one of the lower teams. And then, Mr. Khamis took the program and started it and tried to push it National Collegiate Athletic Association and we got it going, or he got it going with some of the players that I had coached in high school. And then, four years ago, I took over, and we started to really build. In the first year that I took over, we won our league and won eleven games in a row which is still a record for us. In fact, we set records that year in scoring the most goals and allowing the fewest goals. Although the schedule then was definitely not what it is now. Not as strong. Then the second year, we moved up and played quite a bit more difficult schedule and ended up fourteen and six and almost expected an National Collegiate Athletic Association bid but, the six losses were all against teams that were also being considered and they only took four at the time from the west. Is this your second year? Yes. Okay. And then the third year, we had some discipline problems and ended up seven to nine. I kicked—well, not kicked, I suspended eight players after the third. We were six and one at the time and I suspended eight players for three weeks and we kind of crumbled a little bit and that was it. And this last season, we were twelve and nine. Do you think that’s the best team you’ve ever had? The last year? Well, last year is probably the best team; the first year was the most enjoyable. But the last year was the best team in that we played the most difficult schedule we’ve ever played. And I told the team at the beginning of the season that I would be happy with twelve wins and that’s exactly what happened. We played two national champions; we got slaughtered University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 5 by one, the first game against San Francisco. And then we went on to win eight, eight games in a row, including a win against Seattle Pacific, who were the division two national champions. Do you think soccer will become a major sport at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and why? I don’t think it will become a major sport. I don’t think soccer will become a major sport in colleges. I think that in our own right and in time we could become a revenue producer. I think we have the potential and the ability to be the third biggest sport at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I don’t ever see us overtaking basketball. Football is a great priority for the community and school, but I don’t see why we couldn’t be the third team at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. And it seems to me that those other two teams, the football team and the basketball team actually belong to the community. And I think that soccer could be the university’s team and more for the students than anyone else. Do you know any of any type of youth soccer that’s going on around Nevada? Well, at the present time there are more than 4,000 kids player soccer in Las Vegas which is more than the total of kids who play little league and Pop Warner football put together. They go all the way from six year olds—under six teams— to under nineteen teams in both girls and boys. There are adult teams, twelve adult league teams, and six adult league ladies’ teams. So there’s a lot more soccer played here than any other sport. Are you presently on the adult league and how is the record? We have—What I’ve tried to do in the past few years is put as many future University of Nevada, Las Vegas players and present ones together in an adult league as a kind of club in the off season just to keep the players playing together. Just to try out new players, to see if we can find some different combinations and just generally to keep the game going so that people don’t University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 6 lose interest and staying in some kind of shape. We’ve done fairly well in the past; this is the fourth year that we’ve done it. Right now, we are tied for first place. We’ve never won the league. In the past, my priority has been that we would go in and try to learn to play better, not worry about winning the games or winning the leagues. But I’ve kind of changed that a little bit now to maybe try and instill a winning attitude so that when the collegiate soccer season comes around we’ve become used to winning and it’s become a habit. Have you won any tournaments here in this adult league? Well, we won a mini-tournament last weekend, which was kind of a hastily put together thing. In the off season in the past, last year, we won the Western Athletic Conference at Provo, Utah with eight teams. We came in second in the Fullerton indoor tournament. I hear you have problems with some of the teams and certain times. With some of the local teams? Yes. Yes, I put it down actually to frustration—poor physical conditioning. What happens is, the people that generally plan the adult league—I’m talking about teams that are in the top half of the table are generally not in very good physical condition. They maybe practice once a week. They’re not very young and they’ve seen better days, and they become frustrated and become mad at silly little things that you would normally never even think about in the game. But, they take things personally and they think that things are done intentionally by some young kids that are really just playing with enthusiasm and there’s no intent to harm anyone; then arguments and then fights start. We’ve had that problem for years and years in this league, and I think you’ll always have it in those kinds of situations where people just play and don’t practice. Do you think soccer will become more popular in the United States? University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 7 Oh yes, I think in the future within I would say probably within the next twenty years , soccer I think will become a major sport because of its availability to many people. Because, so many children are playing now. The people that I coach will one day, I hope, teach other kids to play, and the standards will get better and also, the economy of the country. We’re looking for inexpensive things to do! Soccer is by far the most inexpensive sport, the equipment is negligible. There’s very, very, few costs; the officials are the greatest costs. Can you tell me why the youth in Nevada has switched from football and baseball to soccer? I really don’t know, other than I think it’s just the same as the rest of country. I for one, am totally disgusted with Pop Warner and Little League football or Little League baseball coaches and parents—people that think they know everything about the game—football and baseball, and I think what’s happening is that the kids that play soccer are teaching parents. I think it’s the opposite way around and the kids have something that the parents haven’t had before and I also think that in ten or fifteen years when all these parents have been used to game, it’s going to be turned into Little League— (Laughs) Baseball and Pop Warner Football and they’re going to get mad at the umpire and destroy the game. I think they really upset the applecart with baseball and football. Do you think— I’ve heard some students around University of Nevada, Las Vegas saying that soccer won’t last at this school. What are your views on that? Well, it’s difficult to say right now. We’re in a budget crunch, we’ve got many, many fiscal problems. The new athletic director is, I’m sure trying to work out those problems. As far as I’m University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 8 concerned, soccer will be there, whether we have to play in T-Shirts, beg, borrow, and steal referees, whatever we have to do, we’re going to keep the program alive. Have you awarded any scholarships in the past years? We have a local scholarship donated by a realtor. It goes to the outstanding high school soccer senior in Las Vegas, in Clark County. That’s been awarded the last four years, the four years that I’ve been there. We also have a monetary amount of grants and aids that I tried to divide up as far as I can go. The National Collegiate Athletic Association that you are allowed to have eleven players on scholarship—eleven players on full scholarships, and they’re not really concerned with the bodies that are on scholarships, it’s the amount of money. And so what I do is give the monetary amount from the athletic department and divide it up as far as I can go. So your next year, you’d be having full scholarships for eleven players? No. We don’t—we’ll never get enough money to have full scholarships for eleven players. That would take 60,000 dollars approximately for that many players for my program. We just don’t have that kind of money. How many players do you think will have full scholarships for next year? I don’t think any of them will have full scholarships. Do you think this year will be an improvement to the past years? I would like to think that we improve every year and that we get better players every year. I think that this year’s crop of recruits from local high schools are better than any year we’ve ever had before. There are five, six, seven kids that will probably step right in to play next year, and play a lot. I’m not going to say they’re going to start, but they’ll play a lot and by the end of the year, they’ll be very experienced in college soccer. Whether the team is better than in past years—I University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 9 think the team will be better, I’m not sure the players as individuals will be better, but I think that we’re going to have a better team than we’ve ever had before. Since you’ve been coach here, has there ever been any players that’s gone farther than college? Yes, that first year that I coached, I had a young man by the name of Roy Sparks, whom I also coached all the way from— Oh, I guess he was about seventeen years old of basic high school. I didn’t coach him in high school, but after school, in the adult league, when I played there, he became a type of protégé. When I took over at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he was a senior and broke a school scoring record that year and was drafted in the fourth or fifth year by the Las Vegas Quicksilvers of the North American Soccer League, and was signed by them to play. Later, when the team moved, he signed with the Las Vegas Seagulls of the American Soccer League and lasted one year with them. Last year, or two years ago, John McDermott, whom I coached at Valley High School and then two years at University of Nevada, Las Vegas also played in the American Soccer League for the Las Vegas Seagulls and was named the Rookie of the Year. Can you see any improvement on players this year that maybe could maybe get that far? Oh yes, I think we’ve got two or three, maybe even more than that if I count the kids that are coming in from high school that have a chance to play professional soccer. Well, can you tell our listeners some of the fundamentals of soccer, just in case, so they’ll know what you’re talking about? Well soccer, to me, is a very simple game. There are a few complicated rules and the rules in soccer differ from many other sports in that intent is more important than action. Whether you intended to do something to someone, whether you intended to trip them, whether you intended University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 10 to touch the ball with your hand, whether you intended to commit any type of foul is the basis for the rules of soccer. So it’s a very simple game, it’s difficult to tell you the fundamentals. Your skills need to be the whole body, you need to be able to hit the ball well, which is the method by which we pass and shoot and propel the ball with our heads—our foreheads—you need to be able to use your chest, your thigh, your stomach, your feet, all sides, back, forwards, insides, the bottom of your feet, to control the ball, to take the speed of it, to be able to play it. You need to be able to kick the ball in many, many ways. We try to teach people not to kick with their toes; when you get passed the point where you are fundamentally sound, then you can go back to kicking it with your toe, because it comes in very handy. But we try to teach youngsters not to kick it with their toes. The only part of your body that you cannot use are your arms and hands; that again is intentional. If the ball hits your hands it doesn’t count, if it hits your arms it doesn’t count. We have a position on the field that we call a goal keeper who protects what everyone else is trying to attack. He’s the only one that can use his hands, and his job is to stop the ball from going into the goal. It’s a different position from everyone else; he’s a very neglected person when it comes to coaching. We kind of use him as a back stop you know? Whenever we need to practice shooting, whenever we need to practice heading, whenever we need to practice crossing the ball, then he gets his practice by trying to stop us from doing those things. Goal keepers—American goal keepers— probably have more skill than American soccer players because they are able to use their hands. They’re using skills that they’ve learned in other sports, particularly American sports, where generally, you look for hand and eye coordination, rather than feet and eye coordination. Can you tell us some of the positions? So— University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 11 Well, I’m a great believer in having really no positions on the soccer field. So long as spaces are filled, then I’m not too interested in positions. But when you start with kids, when you start with young kids, you really need to have them realize that there are other places on the field, that they don’t all run around and chase the ball. So, we give names to positions: the defenders, the people that we call defenders, are sometimes called the “Right Fullback” would be the deepest defensive player on the right side of the field. The opposite on the other side would be the “Left Fullback.” We sometimes have a “Center Fullback” who stands in the middle. If we play defensively, and we try not to play defensively—we need to attack— then we sometimes we have what we call a “Defensive Sweeper” who is an extra fullback to cover the rest of the defense. The midfielders, the people that play in the middle of the field, sometimes called “Halfbacks” or “Link Men,” their job, they’re runners, they’re workers, they’re the people who get the ball from the defense and get it to the attack people. We have a right-half, a center-half, and a left-half, again, and then the strikers, the people that we call “Strikers” or attackers, forwards, whose main job is to score goals. If we have people who play really wide on the side of the field, we call those people “Wingers.” We have a center-forward, or a central-striker. There are many, many formations that we can put people in. The formation that is probably most used today is the four-three-three, which is four defenders, three midfielders, and three strikers. Although, we use many variations at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In the past, we’ve played what we call four-four-two, where we withdraw attackers and put them in the midfield so we have four midfielders, four defenders, and two strikers when we are playing against a strong opponent, or when we are playing against the wind, or tactical formations that are decided by the weather and by the other team. What do you believe are the strongest parts on the field? University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 12 Well, I guess it’s just as Americans would think, up the center of the field, the goal keeper or the center-back, or the central specters in the center half are probably the most important people. But I think that soccer is almost unique in that everyone, everyone on the team has to pull his own weight. There are no set plays, we don’t set things up and say that “this guy does this,” and “this guy does this” as they would in basketball so someone gets the shot or as they would in football and if everyone does their job they score a touchdown. We have to think about it on the field. I always go back to what I tell my players when it comes to thinking or initiative on the field, in that practice belongs to the coach that’s the classroom, and the game belongs to players, and that’s the test. If he’s learned what he’s supposed to learn in the classroom, if he’s done his homework, then he’s going to do well on the test, and that’s the game. Have you had any fullbacks, as we say, that are closest to the goal, or scored any goals? Oh yes, oh yes, I encourage my players to think offensively, to think that we are all attackers when my team has the ball, no matter where we are. We’ve had great goals scored from all over the field. We’ve had goals scored by everybody on the field, everyone except the goal keeper. Conversely, when the other team has the ball, we’re all supposed to think defensively. We’re all defenders, and we defend all over the field, we attack all over the field. It’s a team game, it’s not “this guy scores” and “this guy defends”—it’s everyone scores, and everyone defends. Have you had any spectacular plays that have happened here? We’ve had a few really exciting games over the past few years. It’s difficult to pinpoint to certain plays: we’ve had goal line saves, we’ve had the goalie beaten. For example, last year, when we played Seattle Pacific, the national champions, (unintelligible) Peterson, one of our fullbacks, scored a goal with his head, scored the second goal with his head on a corner kick, and then two minutes later saved off his own goal line with a scissor-kick! So, you know, it was an exciting University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 13 game, very active, and I can’t really pinpoint any plays that were more exciting than others. If you get the job done, I’m not too excited about the spectacular, although the fans do get – Can you tell us what a scissor-kick means? A scissor-kick is when the ball is probably five, six, seven feet high, and instead of trying to hit the ball, instead of trying to jump and hit the ball with your head, you turn your body upside down and with a scissor motion, as you would a pair of scissors, you throw one foot up towards the ball and kick with the other foot. It’s very spectacular, very difficult to do. You’ve got to be very brave to do it. It doesn’t happen very often. I think in my whole lifetime, in my whole career of playing, what would it be now? Twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven years, I’ve never scored a goal with a scissor kick. But if you complete a goal with a scissor kick it’s very exciting and it makes you feel good, and it’s good for the game. I just think those kinds of things are good for the game; although, they’re not very practical. Have you had any really tremendous comebacks from behind, where you thought you would never come back? We’ve had comebacks from behind, but they’ve been too short. A couple years ago, we had a disastrous road trip where we were upset in the first game on a Friday afternoon. The second afternoon we were still down and got beat again by the odd goal. And the next day we played a team that we had already beaten earlier in the season in California and we were down five – zero at half time. I gave my little speech at halftime, I didn’t really talk too much, but said some nasty things, and then in the second half we scored four goals and lost the game five to four. That was a really exciting game. Have you had any this year? University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 14 Not come from behind. We’ve had some exciting games, the Seattle Pacific game again, we beat Azusa Pacific by the odd goal right towards the end of the game. Most of the games have either been where we’ve led the game for most of the game, or we’ve been behind for most of the game. How many letterman will be coming back this year? It’s difficult to tell right now. I would imagine about eight, eight to ten. Do you think this will be a really good improvement? Oh yes. It’s a positive step. The people that are coming back will only have, I think, off hand, three seniors again. I think that’s an indication of Las Vegas soccer. I think we’re always going to have a very young team. What happens is that when people stay the four years at University of Nevada, Las Vegas— I think this may be another type of quirk too—in my four years, only one person lasted the whole four years with me, and played all four years. I’m sure that’s not going to be a rarity in the future but, it has been. What happens, is that the kids that are coming in at eighteen years old have played longer than the people that have played for me for four years. Because of the growth of soccer in Las Vegas, and because they’ve been playing since they were six years old, they’ve got twelve years of experience when they come and some of the players that I’ve had in the past have started to play in high school. So what happens is that the sophomores and the freshman come in that have played longer, they’re more experienced, and they’re better players, and they displace the people that are going to be juniors and seniors. Have you had any players in your recent years that have been transferred or have been drafted by any other colleges? Nobody has transferred to another school, we had one— No. No one’s ever transferred and gone to another school. University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 15 Have you had any really serious injuries that might’ve put any players out of your season? Oh yes. I think every season that’s happened to us. The first year we lost the captain with a cartilage injury. This last season we were ten and two coming back from a road trip and then two of our back-forwards, two of our defenders got hurt and didn’t play any more for the rest of the season. One broke a leg, and the other one an ankle problem that didn’t play anymore, and that kind of ruined our season and we only won two out of the next nine games. (Audio Ends) Have you ever had any reason for wanting to give up head coach, and why? Yes, I guess, you always— I’ve had misgivings in the last few years. You get to the point— I kind of realized that the players, my players, will never love the game as much as I do, and have in the past. It becomes sometimes disconcerting that you have to worry about people being eligible to play. It becomes disappointing that people would break training rules, that they would think of anything else besides their futures as soccer players and as students. I think that as the program grows, we’re going to get better at that kind of thing. That people won’t be that type of person. But I’ve had that type of person in the past, that will tell me that they won’t drink or smoke, or whatever they do on the outside and then still do it, and it effects the game, and that bothers me—that it effects the game. That anything could be more important than going to school and becoming a better soccer player. I suppose that I’ve been naïve in the past, in that I take people at their word. I suspect that people don’t do what people tell me they do, and those kinds of things get me down a little bit. There have been times when I’ve thought, “Why am I spending so much time? Is it worth it?” I spend a lot of time away from my wife and my son. I work all year, twelve months of the year on soccer, and I get paid very, very little for doing it. And it seems to me that I thought that if I would spend that much time for that little money, then University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries Vince Hart 16 I would do it for the love of the game: for the players to get better, for people to appreciate the game and to love the game, to grow with the game. And when they don’t, then it bothers me, and I sometimes think, that perhaps I’m wasting my time. But then again, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t coach soccer. Have you suspended any players for drinking or smoking or stuff like that? Oh yes, as I’ve said, last year, I suspended eight players. We had won a tournament in Fresno and we took two vans—sixteen players and myself and a trainer— and there were nine players—there were eight players and a driver of one van, and I was driving another van and my eight players, and disappointed that my captain of the team had gotten all sorts of hard liquor and beer and everything in the other van and everyone was pretty drunk. So I suspended those eight players for two weeks, that was two years ago. This last season, one of those players that had been suspended previously became a discipline problem again and I removed him from the team. What do you do in your spare times? What are your hobbies? I don’t have a lot of spare time. My hobbies generally, are watching other kids play soccer, watching little kids play soccer. I try to spend as much time with my son as possible and then work around the house. We bought a new house last summer so I spend some time there, but not as much time as my wife would like. Has your son played any soccer at all? No, he’s— I think he will, and I think he lik