February 28th, 2023 | Josh Adelman
Soldiers To Sidelines is proud to award U.S. Marine Veteran Anthony Goliver the Coach of the Month award for February 2023. Coach Goliver earns this award for his commitment to improving his craft by utilizing every aspect of the Soldiers To Sidelines process and translating it into a prominent coaching position where he is making a tremendous impact. He is proof that with hard work, the right attitude, and adaptability, Veterans can make a successful transition into the career of their dreams. Coach Goliver tells us about his experience in the following interview.
STS: Tell your story about how and why you got into coaching. Discuss how coaching has impacted you as a person.
Coach Goliver: I decided to get into coaching in 2018 while on deployment. I had decided that I no longer wanted to make a career out of the military, but the Career Designation Board release was my eye-opener that I needed to actually figure out what was next. After some critical self-reflection, I realized my passion was at the intersection of football and leadership: coaching. Much of who I am as a man is shaped by the tremendous coaches I had in high school and college.
My coaching journey started off very rocky. After returning from deployment, I received orders to Okinawa. I started coaching in a spring league for the military members on the island. After only three games into our 2020 season, we were canceled due to COVID. I immediately began looking for resources to learn the game on my own and prepare for my transition out of the military. That is how I came across Soldiers to Sidelines and was able to register for the first virtual seminar. After completing the seminar, I continued with the Membership Development Program, which helped me grow as a Marine leader and a football coach. I developed a great relationship with both Harrison and Del during that time and was ultimately connected with Bryce McDonald, Chief of Staff at UCLA Football, because of our similar career paths.
Okinawa loosened restrictions a bit in time for the 2021 high school season. I had a great experience serving as the Defensive Coordinator for the JV team and an assistant for the Varsity team. The JV team was a unique challenge because many of those athletes had no tackle football experience, so coaching was critical, and it was very rewarding to watch them grow during the season as both football players and young men.
I am now at UCLA, where I started in January 2022 as a Volunteer Analyst/Intern while utilizing the DOD SkillBridge program. During that internship, I was offered the role of Defensive Graduate Assistant and am now serving in that capacity. I worked with the Defensive Backs this past season. I am still early into my coaching career, but I have already seen its impact on me. I love what I do and go to work every day excited to be there. I truly enjoy getting to work with these young men both on and off the field. I have found my calling.
STS: How has your military experience influenced you as a coach?
Coach Goliver: First and foremost, my military experience opened doorways into coaching that would not have been there otherwise. I know that getting into the college football industry is extremely difficult, and many do not have a blueprint to get started. We, as Soldier Coaches, have to recognize the incredible opportunities that Soldiers to Sidelines provides in this department. By being a veteran and going through the Soldiers to Sidelines program, we have a better opportunity for entry than most of our counterparts that did not play collegiately or have a parent in coaching.
From a leadership aspect, the military trains us in the leadership required to coach. A college football player and a Lance Corporal are way more similar than you might think. Both groups are dealing with living away from home for the first time and trying to figure out who they are as young men. Because of that, when they come to me, I feel that I already have the ability to help them. On the field, coaching is very similar to training. Being able to have a vision for where you want the players to develop and then creating a plan for that development is synonymous with building military training plans. Knowing your craft and being able to clearly teach those you lead is a major part of both military leadership and coaching.
STS: Describe a coaching interaction with a player, or group of players that has a special place in your heart?
Coach Goliver: During this past bowl season, position coaches had to balance being on the road recruiting with coaching in preparation for the bowl game. As such, there was a day of practice where my position coach was not going to be present. As the Graduate Assistant, I was next in line to coach the group. The Defensive Analyst that also works with the Defensive Backs vouched for me to the Defensive Coordinator that I was ready to lead the meeting. The meeting went really well, and I received positive feedback from all the players in the meeting and the Analyst.
STS: Which player you have coached are you most proud of? Why?
Coach Goliver: It is honestly pretty hard to select just one player. I am so proud of the entire Kadena HS JV team from 2021 and their growth through the season. I could pick any of them, but there is one player that sticks in my mind the most. He was a freshman on the team with a ton of natural athletic ability but lacked focus and discipline. Because of that, the head JV coach had essentially given up on him playing. I kept working with him, and by the end of the season, he was a key contributor on offense and defense. This past 2022 season, he became a contributor on the Varsity team. He is a great kid and very respectful, but he needed some direction and focus to keep him engaged. I am excited to see what he can accomplish in the future.
STS: What was the most difficult challenge you have experienced in coaching, and what have you learned from that experience?
Coach Goliver: One of the main challenges I have experienced during my transition has been the ability to step back in authority. Coming from being an Infantry Platoon Commander and an Operations Officer, I have had to adjust to not being in charge. I am very fortunate that the UCLA staff treats Graduate Assistants well and is open to opinions, but it is still not the same as running the show. I think this is a challenge that many veterans go through as they transition careers. I have taken this as an opportunity to learn as much as I can from all the experience on the staff and embrace my role as being the best assistant that I can.