Dr. Thomas Fleck, an icon in youth soccer coaching education, passed away on Saturday, December 24, at the age of 74.
A 40-year member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Fleck served as president of the NSCAA for two years (1984-85), Fleck was instrumental in the establishment of the NSCAA Academies, the association's soccer coaching education division. As a member of the NSCAA Executive Committee, Fleck championed youth soccer and was instrumental in developing the youth coach membership category. He served as a member of its teaching staff for more than a quarter of a century. In 2005, Fleck was chosen as the 63rd recipient of the Honor Award, the highest award bestowed by the NSCAA.
“The NSCAA family has lost a dear friend,” said NSCAA CEO and Executive Director Joe Cummings “Many of us became coaches because of Tom. His contributions to the NSCAA go beyond his work with our coaching education program extending to numerous administrative responsibilities. He was a dear friend to so many in our Association. We offer our prayers and condolences to the entire Fleck family.”
Fleck represented the U.S. Soccer Federation as the technical advisor for the 1980 World Youth Championship in Tunisia, as well as the 1994 World Cup hosted by the United States. He also was recognized internationally when he presented a keynote on youth soccer for UEFA Coaches at Wembley, England in 1998.
A 1958 graduate of West Chester University, Fleck was honored as an All-America. He also was the men's varsity coach at Lehigh University, where he earned his doctorate in education in 1970 while serving as Director of the famed Centennial Elementary Laboratory School, the breeding ground for many of his innovative approaches to developmental learning systems. An accomplished author, he wrote or co-wrote more than 10 books, including the popular The Baffled Parent's Guide to Great Soccer Drills.
Inducted into the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame in 1996, Fleck also received the Walt Chyzowych Memorial Fund Award in 2004. He was presented an NSCAA Letter of Commendation in 1986 and participated in the torch relay for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.
A memorial service will be held in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, January 21.