Milwaukee Talks: Wave coach Keith Tozer
Podcast: Milwaukee Talks: Keith Tozer
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Keith Tozer has literally lived the entire history of indoor soccer in North America. In November 1978, Tozer was the first overall player selected in the first ever indoor soccer league, the MISL. Recently elected to the United Soccer Leagues Hall of Fame, Tozer, 54, led the Milwaukee Wave to their fifth league championship last season and have just begun their title defense.
OnMilwaukee.com recently sat down with Tozer for a wide ranging discussion that touched on his past, the Wave's future, and how long he wants to continue coaching.
OnMilwaukee.com: This is what, you're 19th season here?
Keith Tozer: 20th, actually.
OMC: What is it about Milwaukee that this is where you decided to set roots down? I mean, you've lived and worked in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Hartford, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Kansas City...I don't think I missed any.
OMC: Yes. Atlanta. What is it about Milwaukee that makes it special to you?
KT: Yeah, I think that everybody who first comes here has a different impression of what Milwaukee is all about. That could come from television shows or movies or word of mouth. But I think that once they get here and find out what a great city it is; I mean we have so much to offer here, between sports, entertainment, culture, restaurants, things to do. You also don't have to kill yourself driving in order to do it. Then when people get here, they understand that. Then it's the people. People here are genuine, hard working, sports oriented. It kind of reminds me of Pittsburgh when I played there for five years. So it's been a great place to raise a family in.
OMC: It doesn't hurt that you've had a great deal of success here, too.
KT: That's true. But if it wasn't for the Wave would I still be here? I don't know. If something happened to me and the Wave got rid of me, would I still be here? I don't know. But, since I've had the ability to coach this team as long as I have, that kept me here too. So between everything involved here and also the franchise, that's why I stay.
OMC: By the way, congratulations on another championship.
KT: Yeah, it was a fun year. I know every team in any sport always has a team that they might respect a lot, but for whatever reason it's their rival. For us, that team has always been Baltimore. Both teams have now won five (championships) in the last 13 of 14 years. To lose to them for the third time would have been devastating. We would have had to wait all next year to get back to them. So to beat Baltimore; and to beat Baltimore in Baltimore kind of kept this train going.
OMC: You're got five rings now. How do you decide which one to wear?
KT: In the last five or six years, I started wearing the last one. You know, when you only have one, you obviously only wear that one. But when you get a couple more, you favor the one you like the most. But then I started saying there's no reason behind that either, other than just liking the ring, so I figured, 'you know what, I'm going to start wearing the last ring, and wear it until I get the next ring.'
OMC: Do you have a favorite championship team? Is there a way to choose one over another?
KT: It's a lot like picking children; you're first championship is your newborn; you didn't get the ultrasound, so you don't know if it's a boy or a girl, you didn't get the room painted; you didn't have the boys clothes or the girls clothes already picked out. The second and third and fourth, they were all great, too and they all had different stories on how we did it. Losing three or four (championships) in between also taught us a lot. I think beating Baltimore in Baltimore, numbers one and five has a lot of meaning to me, where two, three, and four do, but one and five definitely.
OMC: Speaking of kids, you're back to changing diapers at the age of 54 (Tozer and his wife, Kelli, welcomed daughter Grace in July, 2010). How is that treating you?
KT: Well, it definitely changed my lifestyle. Where you're used to work long hours at the office, you now have to get home a little bit earlier. I think it's easier in a lot of aspects for me, because while I did some good things I also made a lot of mistakes with my other children. So, even though its Kelli's first baby, I can add some of that experience with her and that helps a lot. I'm not so much going in a thousand different directions, even though I work hard, when I was young with my other children than I do with Gracie. So it's been great. It's great to come home and see her laughing and running around, and great to see my other children, too.
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