Coach gives back with annual Encinitas Express golf tournament

Encinitas Express Soccer League (ESL) coach Brett Mills has spent most of his life on the soccer field. “I would attend every one of my brother’s games alongside of my mom. Then when I was 4 years old, I joined Express’ rec program.”

Mills moved over to ESL’s competitive team at the age of 9 and continued to play well into high school. “Express provided me an opportunity to play with my friends in a competitive setting with coaches who were passionate about the game during a time that it was just gaining popularity in the United States.”

He credits his coaches with not only building his confidence, but instilling a lifelong love for the game of soccer.

Mills recalls traveling with his team to the San Diego Sports Arena to watch the San Diego Sockers play. “At that time, the Sockers were led by some of my favorite players, like Julie Veee, Ralph Wilhelm, Guy Newman and Gary Collier, all of whom would later become very important in my career.”

After high school, Mills played at Palomar Junior College for two years and was named MVP in 2000. After a couple of years away from playing soccer, he felt that he was missing something in his life. It was then that he reached out to Julie Veee, who was the director of coaching at Encinitas Express at that time. “He gave me the opportunity to coach with Express and it rekindled the passion for the game that I love.”

It was obviously a good fit for both, as Mills has been with the league for the past 10 years and was recently named ESL’s Coach of the Year for 2014. “Really, the best part is that I get to give back to the club that started it all for me.”

Mills now works for Taylormade Golf. His passion for both the game of golf and soccer led him to start the Encinitas Express Annual Golf Tournament three years ago. The tournament benefits the league’s scholarship program. “Growing up, there were many years that my family was in need of financial assistance in order for me to play soccer. If that assistance wasn’t available, my path could have been very different.”

Mills calls his mother “the original soccer mom.”

“I don’t remember a single game that she was not on the sideline cheering me on and waiting for me at halftime with a lemon-lime Gatorade. I just want to make sure everyone that is interested in playing competitive soccer has that chance.”

For information about Encinitas Express Soccer League, becoming a sponsor or attending the Golf Tournament, visit www.encinitas-soccer.org.

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