Life and Legacy: Dr. Thomas Fleck, Jr.
Dr.Thomas Fleck, Jr., was born on February 28, 1937, in Temple Hospital in Philadelphia. He was the youngest of three children born to Thomas and Mary Fleck, who emigrated from Scotland in 1928 with their two daughters, May and Margaret. Tom inherited his passion for soccer from his father and he went onto become an All-America at West Chester State College, where he graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education.
While an elementary teacher in Philadelphia from 1958 to 1965, Tom attended Temple University where he earned a Master’s Degree in education in 1960. From 1965 to 1978, Tom was an Instructor in the Graduate School of Education at Lehigh University. In 1967, he was appointed Director of the elementary level of Lehigh University’s Centennial Laboratory School, and the same year was named coach of Lehigh’s varsity soccer team. One year later, he completed his Doctorate in Education from Lehigh.
In 1978, Tom Fleck became the first Youth Coordinator for the United States Soccer Federation and set in place the foundation for the Federation’s youth programs that continue to thrive today. The following year, he was named general manager of the Philadelphia Fury of the North American Soccer League, a position he held until the demise of the NASL in 1982. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Fleck moved to Florida and was appointed Director of Educational Services and Coaching for Florida Youth Soccer Association, a position he held for thirteen years. Beginning in 1996, he served as the Executive Director and Director of Coaching and Player Development for Idaho Youth Soccer until his retirement and return to Florida in 2003.
In the 35 years since he earned his doctorate at Lehigh, Dr. Fleck accomplished more than most men do in a lifetime. Along the way he served as president of the NSCAA, helped conceive and establish the NSCAA Academy, serving on its staff for more than 20 years. He served as a staff coach for US Soccer from 1975 until 2003, and was recognized internationally when he was chosen as a keynote speaker for the UEFA coaches at Welbley, England, in 1998. Most notably, his leadershipand expertiese was felt as a co-author and clincian of the US Soccer National Youth Course.
Dr. Fleck authored and co-authored numerous books, articles and coaching curriculums that placed the focus on the young player first and foremost, a stance that defied the status quo by daring to suggest that teaching and learning and building from a properly understood foundation was much more important than winning. During his career, Dr.Fleck coached players of all levels from youth, high school, collegiate, as well as several US National Teams. He traveled extensively making countless appearances nationally and internationally, speaking on the subjects of youth development, coaching and teaching.
In the words of one of US Soccer Federation’s leading administrators, “In many ways, it was Dr. Fleck’s knowledge and expertise in the area of youth soccer teaching and coaching that lead to the United States’ emergence as a youth soccer power internationally.”