Patrick Miller, the founder and Director of Coaching of Capital City Soccer Club, felt his most comfortable on the soccer field from a young age. Miller grew up in the Dallas area with two older sisters and a supportive mother but, with his father not around, his coaches provided critical mentorship and development during his youth. The sport of soccer opened up a community and purpose that Miller knew, even early on, would always be a part of his life.
He started coaching in some capacity as a teenager during camps, where he’d help with the younger children. Then, as a collegiate soccer player at Barry University in Miami, Miller took on his first paid coaching job with a middle school team. He continued to enjoy the coaching aspect of being on a team just as much as playing when he moved to Austin and finished his collegiate soccer career at St. Edward’s University.
Out of college, Miller was a graduate assistant at the University of Houston-Victoria for a year before he started to coach club soccer in Austin. He coached for about six years, mostly for a satellite division of Liverpool International Academy. While he loved coaching, reporting to the headquarters in Dallas was frustrating in that Austin wasn’t getting the support he and his teams needed. Miller knew there was a better, different way to support the specific needs of the Austin soccer community. So, in 2019, he launched Capital City Soccer Club to do just that.
From scratch, Miller built Capital City, which has a true Austin identity rather than trying to leverage an established club from another area. That also allows it to serve and adapt to the unique needs of south Austin families. For example, other clubs require children in south Austin to travel all the way to north Austin for practice, often during high-traffic times. Whereas Capital City offers high-quality training at a south Austin location, which is much more convenient for many families. Furthermore, a heavy emphasis is placed on the training of younger players so they can benefit from the same intensity and specificity that is often only offered to older children.
The club has grown to about 1,100 boys and girls, ages 5 to 19, and 25 coaches. The goals of these children differ, from wanting to play casually for the rest of their lives to wanting to land a spot on Austin FC. Miller’s goal, however, is simply to provide a platform for children to fall in love with the game of soccer. When a passion for the sport is established at a young age, that’s when the child’s specific goals are truly made possible.
Miller has learned a lot about management and development in the few years since launching the club. In those same years, he’s become a father of two boys, Ethan and Owen (one 2 years old and the other 9 months old). While launching the club and serving as Director of Coaching amid recent growth has been difficult and exciting, it pales in comparison to fatherhood.
“I thought (fatherhood) would feel like coaching, but it’s completely different,” Miller says. “Raising your own kids is just different. It’s hard to explain it unless you’re a parent, but there’s a huge difference you feel. My number one priority is that the kids are happy.” While coaching children successfully does take discernment and skill, most of it is sport-specific. Role modeling, encouragement and even sometimes discipline are involved — but that all stays on the soccer field. Miller’s main goal as a coach and now the director is to help children enjoy the sport as well as to foster development with the goal of reaching their specific soccer goals.
On the other hand, while Miller loves playing soccer with his 2-year-old son (who is already extremely advanced for his age), soccer is only a vehicle to foster joy and connection with his children. While he’ll be thrilled if his boys decide to play, he won’t push his own dreams on them. After decades of playing and coaching, Miller has seen how overbearing parents can have negative consequences on their children. Some kids stop enjoying the game of soccer with too much pressure placed on them to perform a certain way or worse, start to resent their parents. He says it’s not uncommon for children to be looking to the stands during a game, hoping for a glimpse of their parents’ approval rather than enjoying and focusing on the game itself. This isn’t something he wants for his own family so he aims to be intentional, even while the boys are so young, about how he introduces soccer into their lives.
Balancing the work that comes with directing a growing soccer club with being a new father also comes with challenges. Fortunately, Ethan and Owen’s mother, Christie, has a flexible job and can help with the boys during the day while Miller tackles his day-to-day responsibilities as a director. Still, he tries to help throughout the day and week as much as possible and often uses nap times to catch up on his administrative duties so he has time to spend with his children after work.
“The amount of attention they need is huge,” Miller says.
Miller’s current goals for the club go beyond just growth; in fact, he feels that they might be close to their perfect operating size and wants to focus on quality over quantity. From there, his goal is to build a competitive team within each age group.
“Capital City will continue to support the goals of every player from ages 5 to 19 to help them become passionate for the sport of soccer, have good role models in coaches and teammates, and be producing top teams and players in Central Texas,” Miller says.
Miller is a role model himself, not only as a coach and father but also for those of us who want to build meaningful careers while also raising families. His story demonstrates how being passionate about what you do outside the home builds self-awareness and selflessness that can translate to being a better parent. Children need role models that lead by example, following their own dreams rather than forcing those dreams onto children. In this way, children can choose their own path, whether that be pursuing professional soccer or something entirely different, and know they’ll have support along the way.
About the Author
Liz Harroun is a nutritionist and regenerative agriculture expert with a passion for telling stories. When not working on her latest project, you can find her cycling or rock climbing around central Texas. Reach out or see more of her work at lizharroun.com.