WOODBURY, Minn. - Former Minnesota United forward Jamie Watson has played on some big stages, but it was his first last year as an assistant coach that made him the most nervous.
"My wife was actually giving me a hard time, she said 'you're more nervous for this than a Minnesota United game. And I was because I cared. And I was a because this was my first chance to shape some young women as soccer players and also as people," Watson said.
Watson who now is on the television broadcasting crew for United games, begins his second season as an assistant with the East Ridge girls soccer team this year. A job that he's morphed into quite nicely.
"You can see his charisma. You can see how the kids connect to him and his insight into the game. He can bring something to our top level players that I couldn't," said East Ridge girls soccer coach Tim Bunnell.
It certainly worked last season. The Raptors made it all the way to the state title game but fell short. Still they believe Jamie's guidance helped pave the way.
"He's amazing and he's worked with Minnesota United, so it's awesome that he can work with us. He gives really great feedback. You can ask him a question and he'll respond right away and give you all the feedback you need," said East Ridge senior Marin Majewski.
Whether he is zip-tying nets to the goals, or guiding the pregame warmups, you won't often catch a moment where Jamie Watson isn't smiling. He truly relishes in his job as assistant coach - in fact emotionally it surpasses playing in the pros.
"Pro sports is the best job I could have ever asked for but you lose a little of the sense of the true meaning of the game. But when you come back to the high school level and you play strictly for pride for your school and the reputation for your school there's a sense of extra care that goes into it," Watson said.
An extra sense of care that is sensed by his players.
"He just cares so much. He really cares about each girl individually, he takes the time to let them know that they are important and that they are doing good," said East Ridge senior Maddie Nicholson.
Jamie loves the fact that his assistant role affords him the chance to do that. And he has no immediate plans to pursue more.
"If we keep having the wonderful girls year after year than the sky is the limit for this program. And I am just happy to be one piece of the puzzle that is the East Ridge soccer program," Watson said.