“WOW”! Moments

by Bill Heiser

When I was eight years old, I went to my first overnight soccer camp.  I was excited but afraid to be away from home at such a young age for an entire week.  Fortunately, my older brother and some of my soccer teammates were with me, which helped ease my anxiety.  I remember a guest demonstration at the soccer camp by Tommy Mulroy, the world-record holder for juggling a soccer ball.  Just a few years earlier, he had recorded 12,295 touches over the course of more than 2 hours in a 20’x25’ observation deck atop the Empire State Building. WOW!  Tommy was there to display his talents and teach kids to dream BIG.  When I watched Tommy juggle, he inspired the belief that I, too, could be a skillful master of the ball. I went home from camp and juggled my soccer ball every day.

I believe in the power of dreaming BIG.

In 1986, I remember watching the World Cup on television. I was thirteen years old and I was mesmerized as Diego Maradona singlehandedly dominated the international soccer tournament, defeating West Germany in the finals.  This Argentinian soccer player put an entire team and country on his back and showed the world that he was the best. He was incredible, dribbling through an entire English team and making the winning assist with a brilliant pass in the finals.  WOW!   When I watched Maradona dribble, he inspired me to dream BIG.

I believe in the power of looking for “WOW!” Moments.

Just a year later in the summer of 1987, I was attending a regional soccer camp in Binghamton, New York and I had another “WOW!” moment.  Erik Imler, a friend who was two years older and from my hometown in Bowie, Maryland was sitting in his dad’s car at the camp.  I walked up to the car and spoke with him.  Erik told me that he and his dad had just driven down to the camp from Canada, where Erik had just competed in the Under 16 Youth World Cup, representing the United States.  WOW!  I thought this was a remarkable achievement.  Erik planted another seed to dream BIG.

I believe that dreaming BIG occurs when PASSION meets what I call the “WOW!” Moment. Tommy juggled. Maradona dribbled. Erik played in the World Cup.  All of these were “WOW!” Moments in my youth soccer development.  My PASSION for soccer collided with these “WOW” Moments and gave me the courage to strive towards my first CORAGEOUS GOAL that one day I would play for the U.S. Youth National Team.  I learned that in order to achieve my COURAGEOUS GOAL, I had to seize opportunities, work tirelessly, maximize my talent, overcome challenges, and experience some luck along the way.

I believe that my early “WOW!” Moments in soccer made it possible for me to dream BIG, which ultimately served as the inspirational foundation to make the 1989 United States Youth National Team.

Every successful soccer player had his or her own unique experience of having a “WOW!” Moment in soccer. I believe that our coaches and clubs must share their own “WOW!” moments with their players and be purposeful in creating new “WOW!” moments for our future players so that they too will dream BIG!


Dr. Bill Heiser is currently the President at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore, MD.  He was named Maryland High School Principal of the Year in 2013.  Bill played soccer at Loyola University Maryland and was a member of the United States Under-17 Youth National Soccer Team in 1989.  He has coached soccer at the youth, high school, college and professional level.  

About Erik Imler

A Retired Professional Player, NCAA Champion (1989,1991,1992), and 1992 U.S. Olympic Team (Barcelona, Spain)who is dis-satisfied with the status quo of youth soccer development in the United States and motivated to create a youth program that addresses the most prominent technical deficiencies in many youth players - passing & receiving.

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