Daryl Shore, the head coach of Forward Madison FC, the new professional soccer team that calls Madison its home, is an interesting character. He was born and raised in New York and played soccer, basketball and golf growing up. The son of a basketball coach, he had coaching genes in his blood from the start.
Shore began his college career playing soccer for Birmingham-Southern College from 1989-93, where he earned the distinction of being a two-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American. After graduating in 1993, he was inducted into the Birmingham-Southern College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.
He then began playing at the professional level with the Birmingham Grasshoppers of the United States International Soccer Leauge followed by a stint with the New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers, where he was a player-assistant coach. After Shore’s retirement from playing, he became the head coach of the team — which had changed its name to the New Orleans Storm — followed by a brief tenure as the head coach of the Lehigh Valley Storm.
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From 2000-10, Shore served as an assistant coach for the Major Leauge Soccer’s Chicago Fire, where he worked for Madison FC director Peter Wilt, who served as the team’s president and general manager. He then became the head coach of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers from 2010-13, followed by another assistant position with Real Salt Lake of the MLS from 2014-17 where he also served as interim head coach for a short period in 2017.
Today, he proudly serves as the first coach of Forward Madison FC. When it was announced that Peter Wilt would be the club’s director, Shore inquired about a position with the team, which Wilt then promptly offered to him. Shore said that with this being Madison’s first professional athletic team in years, he’s excited for the unique opportunity that lays before him.
In anticipation of the start of practices next week, Shore said that the team’s executives, including himself, were targeting the final players to complete the roster. He went on to say that they are all excited to just “get on the soccer field and take the balls out.”
As for expectations this season, Shore feels that the team has a real opportunity to be in the United Soccer League championship and hopes that the Madison community and the state of Wisconsin will welcome them with open arms. Expectations in the long run, however, are quite loftier.
“Holding up a trophy, hopefully in front of a home crowd, as well as a parade down State Street,” Shore said.
The roster compiled by Shore and assistant coach, Neil Hlavaty, so far includes players of all shapes and sizes, including Wisconsin natives J.C. Banks and Carl Schneider. Overall, Shore and Hlavaty explained that they feel good about the roster they’ve built, as it is diverse and contains “unique players with unique backgrounds.”
The roster is comprised of players who also have the “right attitude,” according to Shore — competitive and positive no matter the results. Shore wants his players to play with that spirit all season, so that fans leaving the stadium feel the desire to come back and watch the team win.
The players were hand-picked by Shore and Hlavaty, which means there are already existing personal connections within the team. Shore coached Jeff Michaud and Don Smart before, and he has also coached against J.C. Banks and Danny Tenorio. It seems that every player has at least some prior connection to either coach or their teammates. They all have in common what Shore calls the ability to “go to battle,” which is the reason they were chosen.
When asked about the importance of the partnership with the MLS team Minnesota United FC, Shore said that knowing there is an MLS team affiliated with his squad should serve as motivation for the players. He went on to explain that understanding somebody is “watching and recruiting the team will force the players to play their best soccer, and hopefully improve the team into a complete unit.”
Logistically, Shore and Hlavaty plan to run an aggressive, offense-focused game plan, with the hope being to play most of the game on the opponent’s half of the field. Shore plans to implement discipline and organization within their defense as well, creating a well-balanced team. In all, he explained that he wants the team to play “efficiently and forward moving,” just as the team name implies.
In his closing remarks, Shore said that having this team here in Madison is an “exciting opportunity for students at the University of Wisconsin, so everyone should take advantage of having a pro team.”
He was also certain that the games would be a good time, regardless of result. He invited anyone and everyone to be a part of the Flock, the self-named fan club of Forward Madison FC, and hopes to see the fans pour in this summer.