10 Questions with Peter Fewing

Frank MacDonald talks with Peter Fewing about his involvement with SCORES

How many guys do you know who have started their own soccer camp while still a teenager, played for a Seattle team at Portsmouth or, as a coach, won a national championship? Those are just a few reasons why Pete Fewing is rather unique. Since leaving Seattle University in 2006, he has joined the local chapter of America SCORES, a national non-profit bringing the beautiful game and literacy to kids across the country.

You’ve been with Seattle SCORES for the past two years. Tell us about that organization.
I’ve served as executive director for about 18 months, and before that I was on the volunteer advisory board since 2002. Seattle SCORES is a fantastic after school program for kids who are not having a chance to play youth soccer. We’re one of 14 America SCORES programs in major cities across the country. We’re in neighborhoods where many of our kids are not playing regularly on youth teams. These kids are 3rd through 5th graders and 70 percent are receiving free and reduced lunch. It’s great for them academically because they are doing poetry and creative writing as well. [Two weeks ago] I’m proud to say we sent two kids to the America SCORES National Poetry Slam. It’s great for them as citizens because they are doing community service as well. Every time I go to a school and watch our kids, I am convinced it is a great, great program.

Seattle SCORES relies on donations. What are some of the local fundraising events?
We just had our auction at the Westin Hotel. We had 300-plus people attend, it went great and we raised over $280,000. On June 1, we have the SCORES Cup, which is a corporate cup at Starfire. This is our second year with the corporate cup and we have law firms, banks, Starbucks, WaMu, Deloitte & Touche, and a lot of different companies from the Seattle-Bellevue area participating, paying $2,000 to play in our 7-a-side tournament. It was a lot of fun last year.

If there’s one story you could tell about the impact of your Seattle SCORES program, what would that be?
There are many stories, but here’s one. Cascade View Elementary, in Tukwila, had a child with some physical disabilities in the program. At beginning of the year he wasn’t on the team, but he attended all the practices. As time went on, they found a spot for him, in goal. When they opened the position for him, his entire team rallied around him so that he could play. When he got his uniform, he and his parents and his coaches were all in tears. The byproduct of giving this young fella a chance to play was teaching his teammates to accept someone a little bit different, and it’s a lesson to be learned for all kids.

Are you still actively coaching?
I’m coaching my boys’ team at Crossfire U19. It’s been really fun to coach both of them, the 16-year-old and the 18-year-old. It was my wife’s idea, and a great one, that they both are on the same team. From a dad’s standpoint it’s been great. I remember one sunny day sitting on the sidelines and, after rotating the lineup, I had one of them on either side. It was a sort of soccer heaven.

As a coach, what’s your most vivid memory?
The big milestones are winning national championships. It’s so hard to put into words, but winning those championships in ‘97 and ‘04 was extremely special, because of the process you go through with all those great guys. Going undefeated (in 2004) was interesting because we never really thought about it at the time. We didn’t think about going undefeated, truthfully; we just wanted to win the next game. The most special thing about it was the bond formed by having those relationships and that shared experience.

How about as a player?
I have a few. Scoring a goal against USF for the Huskies. I remember it was a night game, a big crowd and it was a full volley from outside the box. Then there was playing with FC Seattle, and having that opportunity to play at Queens Park Rangers, at Middlesbrough, at Portsmouth. The Portsmouth people were spitting on us and throwing coins at us. It may not sound like it but it was a fun atmosphere. I was a very average soccer player and I know it, so I feel fortunate to have played with guys like Fran O’Brien, Jeff Stock, Jeff Durgan, Chris Henderson, Jimmy McAlister, Brian Schmetzer and Chance Fry. It was such an honor.

Describe yourself as a coach.
I think I care a lot about the players and they know it. On the field and off it, and after they finish playing for me. I care about standards and doing the little things right. I care about the details. I care about the team getting along and treating each other with respect, representing the school or the club the right way. It was really important how we treated other people. I felt like if we have high standards off the field and on the field, it would translate to important standards on the field.

Whether its coaching college guys, kids or summer campers, what are the points of emphasis you want every player to take away from the experience?
Standards. Standards of behavior, of work, commitment to and respect of their teammates. Standards of doing things right, whether it’s how you leave a hotel room or how you bend in a ball, how you close down or the run you make. It’s about having high standards and demanding that. (Duke basketball coach) Mike Krzyzewski says sports are the medium by which you, as a coach, get to teach some important life skills, and I agree with him.

What game, as a player or coach, would you like to play over again?
The quarterfinal game in 2004, when we won with 3 seconds to go, was a very special game. It was end to end and it was a battle, and I’m not saying we were the better team for 90 minutes, but we won. We had said all year that we were going to score in the final seconds, and so that was the culmination of that commitment. With 10 seconds to go, our opponents dropped off and we didn’t.

You’ve been around the game virtually your entire life. What’s the best thing about it?
I’ve been blessed to be around so many good people around soccer. It’s given me a really good life as far as friends and experiences and having the opportunity to know so many good people. To connect with 6-year-olds and 80-year olds. It’s given me a lot of gifts, and I’m fully, fully aware of how blessed I’ve been to play and coach soccer.