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On the bench with T. Logan Fleck

After 10 years as USF’s women’s soccer coach, T. Logan Fleck has accumulated some impressive numbers. In 1998 he was named USF Coach of the Year after a 15-1-3 record and a C-USA championship, and after a devastating 5-9-2 2004 season, he has 84 career wins as a coach. From 1994-96 he pulled double duty as both the men’s and women’s coach, and the men in 1996 were co-C-USA champs, leaving him with a men’s career record of 34-17.

Oracle Sports Editor Mike Camunas sat down with the always outspoken coach to get his take on things.

Oracle: Alright. To start, you have to tell me what the ‘T’ in T. Logan Fleck stands for. It’s not really bad, is it?

Fleck: The T stands for either terrible or terrific, depending on how my team does. Actually, the T is in honor of my father. His name is Dr. Thomas Fleck and he just received the Lifetime Achievement award from the National Soccer Coaches Association. That’s quite a big deal. So the T stands for Thomas and I’ve always kept it.

O: You’ve been here (at USF) quite a while. How long do you plan on staying?

LF: Unless other people have a different idea, I plan on staying until I win a national championship. That is my goal. The only thing I could ever foresee myself leaving the University of South Florida for would be a U.S. national team job. And that’s not even something I’m thinking about and I’m not making that up.

O: In the men’s soccer media guide, there’s a picture (shown top right) that’s dated 1994 and in it there’s a guy credited as Logan Fleck, but that doesn’t look like you. Who is that young guy in the picture?

LF: (Laughs) That was a guy prior to coaching two teams simultaneously for three years. There’s a lot more gray hair and (I’m) a little bit more expanded, but you got to have that fire. I tell people all the time, ‘Coaching can be compared very easily to parenting. It’s a 24-7 job.’

O: What was it like coaching both the men’s and the women’s team?

LF: I’ve done it before. But I think it all depends on the players you’re working with and you have to really be a soccer geek. And that’s me. I am a soccer geek. It’s not a secret. I love the game, I love teaching and I love watching people (players) grow.

O: If you couldn’t coach, what would you do?

LF: I’d be a lawyer. I wish I had the talent of John Grisham. That would be great to be able to write books. But I have been told by a very, very high authority that I do not have a singing voice and I still sing anyway. But I’d probably be a professor in law or something where I was working with young people.

O: What’s a better soccer movie: Ladybugs or Bend It Like Beckham?

LF: Bend It Like Beckham.

O: You don’t like Rodney Dangerfield?

LF: Nah. I thought Ladybugs was very well done. I’m a big fan of Rodney. But it’s definitely Bend It Like Beckham, because that movie really helped soccer grow. I don’t know about that actress that was in it (Keira Knightley), and she was in the pirates movie, and King Arthur and I don’t know what she’s doing with the acting, but she could’ve been a midfielder.

O: Ok, well what about the great ’80s movie Victory with (Sylvester) Stallone and Pele?

LF: (Laughs, then says in his best Stallone impersonation) Hey, I’m going to punch somebody. Yo. (regular voice) But for the acting that went on in that movie, I thought it was great, and for Stallone, and being a Philadelphia guy (myself), the way (Stallone) catches that ball, to this day drives me crazy. You know he pretty much catches it and then lands on his elbows. I mean don’t get me wrong, but he’s the only guy who can stand in goal and go (in Stallone voice), ‘Yo, I think we can win.’ Alright, that’s great, Sly. Apollo Creed punched you too hard. It’s one of the greatest movies to come along to put into perspective that athletes are great athletes and not great actors.

O: If they made a movie of your life, who would play you?

LF: (Sighs) Oh, probably the late, great Dudley Moore. Honestly though, it would probably be somebody like a Bill Murray. In my mind, I see Denzel Washington. He’s good looking, he’s a good actor, he’s unbelievable. But probably, it would be Bill Murray on a bad day.

O: Can you still ball it up on the field? Go out there and show your players a thing or two?

LF: There’s no doubt (that I can), and if any of them want to start, they let the ol’ coach kick the ball around once in a while. But the fun part is, we were messing around one day and some kids were just horsing around with our players and one kid was like, ‘He’s a baller. He’s old and everything, and fat! But he’s a baller. I didn’t know he was a baller!’