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ALL-AREA BOYS SOCCER: Y.C.'s Nelson named Coach of the Year
Nelson leads alma mater to TCC title
Sean Nelson has seen the game of soccer from various angles.
As a player, he's been a standout in the sport since age 4.
A Yuba City High Class of 2002 graduate, Nelson was a two-time Appeal-Democrat All-Area selection with the Honkers and was named MVP of the Division-I Delta League his senior year.
He went on to play collegiately at both Yuba College and Ottawa University in Kansas.
Along with his experience as a player, Nelson started officiating games at 12 years old and is now one of the top referees in the Yuba-Sutter area.
Coaching is the one thing he didn't really think he'd get into.
He came home to Yuba City on summer break one year and began conditioning with his former coach Paul Shank and the Honkers' soccer program.
While working with the team, Nelson found himself giving the players pointers on their game and helping Shank run practices.
Five years later, he's now the head man at his alma mater.
Last fall, Nelson led the Honkers to their first conference title since 2006-07 with an undefeated mark in the TCC in just his second year as head coach.
Ten years after being named to the All-Area team as a senior in high school, he's the 2011-12 A-D All-Area Coach of the Year.
"I have so much pride being from here," Nelson said. "I just wanted to see this program continue to improve. It's all about getting these kids to do something positive."
Nelson grew up six blocks from Yuba City's campus, across the street from Park Avenue School. He said several of the players in his program live in his old neighborhood.
Upon graduation from Ottawa where he earned a degree in biology, Nelson joined Shank's staff as an assistant and took over the JV squad.
He became head coach in 2010 and he and his players went through the growing pains as they finished in fifth place in the TCC.
"When you lose, you learn a lot," Nelson said. "It's all about how your team plays together. It's our own little family."
Nelson and his group of seniors, which he coached since the JV level, made a complete 180 and dominated the TCC with a 9-0-1 mark this year.
Nelson's message to his players is setting priorities straight: Family comes first, then school, then soccer. He said he's following the template left by his mentor, Shank.
"I'm just trying to take what he started and take it to another level," Nelson said. "He set up a great program and I'm seeing how important that is."
Soccer consumes most of Nelson's life.
In the winter, he officiates Northern Section games and coordinates referee assignments for the Yuba-Sutter area. Right now he's coaching two youth competitive programs.
Along with offseason conditioning and practices, Nelson requires his players to take a course in officiating to better understand the game.
Add in a full-time job and his commute from Chico, and Nelson has plenty to keep him occupied.
Last year was a step in the right direction, but he's not even close to satisfied yet.
"There's always room for improvement," Nelson said. "If you have 11 guys playing together though, it's hard to lose."