Q&A with Boys’ Soccer Coach Thom Schauerman

In 2021, Shipley’s boys’ varsity soccer coach Thom Schauerman earned his 10th Friends Schools League Championship with the Gators. “I was born into a soccer family. I always gravitated towards it,” he says about his lifelong love of the sport. Schauerman’s mother was British, and he remembers watching English Premier League Soccer with his family on the sports channel and getting newspaper clippings about his family’s local Swindon Town F.C. soccer team from his cousins abroad. 

After high school, Schauerman played soccer at Marymount University, where he had been recruited by coach Keith Moser. “I knew I wasn’t going to be a professional soccer player, I just wanted to go somewhere where I would like the coach,” explains Schauerman. Mouser would become a mentor to Schauerman, even serving as a groomsman in his wedding.

After college, Schauerman attended the Police Academy and worked as a full-time correctional officer, always coaching on the side for a variety of clubs, including Lower Merion Soccer Club, FC Delco, Philadelphia Union Academy, and the Union Juniors Program. He went on to graduate school for a master’s in elementary education and signed up to be a substitute teacher at Shipley, where he also became a student teacher. 

In 2005, Schauerman accepted a job as an associate teacher in kindergarten a year after graduating, working as an assistant boys’ soccer varsity coach for a year (during which the team won the FSL title against Friends Central) before taking the head coach position in the 2006-2007 school year.

Ridley, PA

Marymount University, BA
Cabrini College, MEd 

Years at Shipley

# of FSL Championships

What does it take to be a winning team?
Culture, above all. Obviously, you have to have a talented team and skilled players, but we've all seen (and been on) teams that have a lot of talent and don't win. Making genuine personal connections with players and treating them as people–that’s where real learning happens.

There’s no one drill called winning–it’s a culmination of a bunch of things. If you think of success as a mountain–then winning is at the top, and there’s a lot that goes into getting there. It comes down to consistency and balance.

What kind of coach are you?
I’m a players’ coach–I want to get the best out of the kids and I do that by being there for them and getting them to trust me.

I want to make the experience of playing on my team as good as possible. This includes staying connected with my players throughout the year. Checking in with them, playing in spring and summer leagues, running weight-lifting sessions out of season, and just being there for them. 
They’re not just players, they’re people who I care about. I always try to show the kids that I am genuinely invested in them, that I’m concerned and care about them. 

What non-soccer skills do you try to teach your players?
Good communication: “If you’re going to be late, I want to know. I try to model that as much as possible.”
Dedication: “I always call to check on players who got hurt or didn’t have a great game.”
Vulnerability: “How many times have my players seen me cry? I am competitive and tough, but it’s okay to break down, show your feelings, and have a bad moment.”
Honesty: “I wear my heart on my sleeve and will always tell you what I think. If there’s an issue, let’s get it on the table right away. I I don’t want things to fester.”
Let go of ego: “It’s our team, it’s not my team. I ask my players for advice and feedback. This season we had a week between the end of the regular FSL season and state playoffs. I asked the guys, ‘What do you think we need to work on?’

On teamwork & trust:
I have great assistant coaches. I want to work with people who are going to challenge me and be honest with me, people who I can trust. Everybody has a place and everybody has a role, and you’ve got to give people the space to play that role.”

Trust is a big thing in our program. The coaches trust each other; the coaches trust the players; the players trust the coaches; and the players trust each other.

What was special about this season?
As a coach, you always want your team to be like family, but this year, probably more than any team I've coached, everybody was committed and close—from the freshmen to the seniors, everybody felt like they were part of it. They felt connected. They treated each other like brothers, which means holding each other accountable and calling each other out. Sometimes I’d wonder, ‘How is this going to play out?’ It always played out that they worked harder, they didn't make the mistake again. It always ended up being really constructive.

We had a really big roster this year and the team battled every practice–every drill, every scrimmage, whatever we did, the guys were hitting the ground, sliding the tackle… That intensity in practice really spilled over into the games. And this was one of the most physical teams, not necessarily one of the biggest teams in height and stature. These guys played like bulldogs all year.

On goalkeeping:
I was a pretty decent field player in high school. I went from playing striker to goalkeeper. Going into my junior year, we didn’t have a goalie. I really liked goalie jerseys and had jumped in a few times during practices, and it felt really comfortable—I wasn’t afraid to dive. They always say goalies have a screw loose. I don’t see it until I see myself playing a game. My dad hated when I switched. He always used to say, ‘There’s no glory in goalkeeping.’ But what I found was that goalkeeping taught me a lot about the game, it taught me to enjoy the high points, it gave me an opportunity to thrive under pressure, how to persevere through the tough moments. 
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.