Looking at twitter today, someone noted that it's 10 years to the day since Clive Charles died.
I have a belief that no one really dies as long as they are remember in the hearts of the people that knew him. That said, I miss his infectious smile. I miss his calm, gentlemanly nature on the sidelines. I miss his soft spoken humbleness.
He was more than a coach. He was more than a teacher. He was more than a mentor to the people that knew and played under him. Who Clive was and what he brought to Portland - both the University and city - was incalculable and indefinable.
Everyone has a Clive story. Some people were blessed enough to have him as a coach. Some attended his camps. Some knew him from far back as the NASL day. Some where even lucky enough know him personally.
While I only meet him twice, I saw what impact he could have on a person. This is my Clive story - actually, its my brother-in-law's story.
While I didn't attend University of Portland, four out of my five siblings did throughout the 1990's. In 1989, my oldest sister decided to attend the University with her future husband - who was a decent keeper at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma. He wanted to continuing to play soccer but at that time, UP had one of the top teams in the nation. Unfazed, he knocked on Coach Charles office door a few weeks after arriving on campus. Clive could of sent him away or been cold. However, he brought him and they started talking. Clive agreed to give him a few practices to tryout. After practice one day, Clive took him aside and talked to him for about five minutes. The conversation ended with, "If you continue to work hard, I will always try to find a place for you."
He kept his word just as my future brother-in-law kept his. By his sophomore year he was the third string goalkeeper behind Keller and some other guy. During his senior year, he even got playing time against several of the smaller colleges as a second half substitute.
Charles could of treated him like a scrub, but he didn't. He could of treated him like a outcast - instead he brought him into the family. Charles was one his inspirations and one of the reasons why my brother-in-law still coaches and entered the teaching profession.
The tale of my brother-in-law isn't unique. There are thousands of people he touched. It's just too bad he couldn't see what he helped built in bringing top-flight professional soccer back to Portland. While he wasn't the MLS Timbers first head coach, he certainly was in spirit.
We miss you Clive,