March 31, 2014
By Steve Hunt
Former FC Dallas Coach Hyndman at peace with time in Frisco
Dallas Soccer News Contributor
DALLAS, Texas---It was a truly surreal scene last October. The day before FC Dallasí 2013 home finale against Seattle Sounders FC, then-FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman didnít talk to the media immediately after training as was customary.
|Former FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman is making up for lost family time and recharging his personal batteries before taking on any new coaching challenges.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Usually on the day prior to home matches, the team would train on the stadium field in Frisco and the players and Hyndman would talk to reporters as they came off the pitch. But on that day, the several members of the press in attendance were instead ushered into an adjoining locker room after training, where some folks from NBC Sports Network, who was broadcasting the game with the Sounders, were also waiting.
Hyndman first fielded questions about the upcoming match, FCDís first since being eliminated from playoff contention the previous Saturday against Chicago. However, after a few minutes, he stopped taking questions and with Hunt Sports Group chairman Clark Hunt in attendance, announced he would be stepping down at seasonís end.
Sure, there had been questions about his job security after FCD roared to a strong start in 2013 but saw all that momentum evaporate during an 11-game winless streak that reached into August.
And there was the fact that after playing in the MLS Cup final for the first time in 2010, FCD had crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League and the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2011 and hadnít even made it to the postseason in 2012 or 2013, so there was always talk about Hyndman being on thin ice.
But the way Hyndman announced he was leaving was pure Schellas. As someone who has studied the martial arts most of his life, Hyndman is big on honor and integrity, and seeing him personally make the announcement that he would be stepping down instead of reading it in a club-issued communiquť wasnít a surprise.
The following week, the longtime coach said he would be retained by FCD as a consultant.
Since stepping down, Hyndman, who has been in Dallas since 1984, when he became the head coach at neighboring SMU, has been enjoying life by spending time with his wife, daughter, who is now a freshman at Texas A&M, and has even made a trip across the pond to see his grandson, Emerson, who is in the academy with Fulham FC of the English Premier League.
ďIíve really embraced this opportunity to try and make up with all the lost time with family. Until youíre in this position, you donít realize that youíre consumed with the job 24/7, 365 days a year,Ē Hyndman admitted. ďThereís not really any time that youíre not away from the team, the future of the team, projecting the team and the competition. So Iím trying to make up time, spending a lot more time with my family. My wife and I have been traveling. Iíve been spending a lot more time with my wife (and daughter), Tamara, who went through high school without her dad being around a lot, and then went to England to see firsthand how Emersonís life is in Fulham, spent about 10 days over there.Ē
Besides his travels to College Station, England and various points in between, the man who won 466 games as a college coach, fifth-most all-time, also has been occupying his time with coaching seminars, speaking engagements and coaching courses. And yes, Hyndman still watches his share of soccer, whether itís MLS, Premier League, La Liga or the like, including games of the team he used to coach.
ďIím really enjoying this time. And on a personal level, Iím finally taking care of Schellas,Ē Hyndman said. ďMy whole life has been leading a group of people, whether itís college or professionally, in training sessions, designing training sessions and competing in games. Thatís always been my trademark, is to give whether itís my martial arts studio, whatever it might be and now Iím taking care of Schellas, working out, trying to eat better and spending as much time as I can with family.Ē
In June, he and his daughter will be making the trek to Brazil to take in five matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
As for his title as consultant with his former employer, he said the phone has yet to ring with FCD on the other end and he doesnít expect it to, something he feels is best for everyone involved.
ďYeah, Iím not really sure how thatís going to go. Obviously, theyíve got a new coach and a new direction and theyíre doing well, so I donít know if theyíre going to need Schellasí ideas and thatís fine,Ē Hyndman said. ďI have not heard from FC Dallas and more than likely will not.Ē
Hyndman became FCDís coach in June 2009, less than two months after the club fired Steve Morrow following a 5-1 home loss to the LA Galaxy. There were ups during his tenure, like Dallas playing for the league title for the first and to date only time in 2010, a year where FCD had the MLS MVP in David Ferreira and MLS Coach of the Year in Hyndman, but there were also downs like an absolute collapse under a crush of games in 2011 and then the 2012 and 2013 teams not making the playoffs.
But true to form and as he said that fateful day last October, Hyndman still looks back on his tenure with FCD with no regrets. Sure, he admits he learned plenty during his nearly six seasons as an MLS head coach, but he still has no regrets.
ďIt was a great opportunity for me and Iíll always be grateful to Clark (Hunt) for having faith in me. I was given a lot of opportunities and without a doubt, Iím a better coach than when I started five and a half years ago and without a doubt Iím a better person,Ē Hyndman said.
In the meantime, he has continued honing his coaching skills through his various activities and the soccer lifer, a title he wears as a badge of honor, said that heís also been extended several job offers, two at the collegiate level and another with an international club outside of the U.S., opportunities which he declined.
ďThis year, I am trying to stress to be around family, make up lost time and make sure I am recovered and have my batteries charged for whatever opportunity comes along whether itís in Dallas or out of Dallas, I will certainly look at those things,Ē Hyndman said. ďLike I said, Iíve had three sure opportunities that Iíve passed up because I would have had to move out to Dallas but Iím not prepared to do that because of my life here in Dallas and then also the history here in Dallas and with my daughter now a freshman at Texas A&M, Iíve really enjoyed being around.Ē
Since about the midway point of the 2012 season, it was clear that the job was exacting an incredible toll on Hyndman, as he admitted he was having trouble sleeping, a tough thing for someone with as much energy as he has. In fact, his insomnia was so bad that at one point, he checked into a hotel near Toyota Stadium so he could get some sleep. He was also prescribed medication to help him sleep.
But that doesnít mean there arenít parts of the gig he doesnít miss, like being around the players on a daily basis, planning training sessions, the games and doing what he truly loves, teaching the game that has given so much to him over the years.
ďYeah, I would say the last year and a half was very taxing on me,Ē Hyndman admitted. ďWe had injuries. We had different leadership. We had different objectives. I could never really complain about the players. Iím a pragmatist. We didnít get into the playoffs. We lost games we shouldnít have lost. We started off tremendously (in 2013) and then we hit a wall. We didnít get the players we needed to get in and at the end of the day, I didnít get it done. We didnít get it done and when I say we, I mean I didnít get it done.Ē
And even though his time with FCD didnít quite end the way he had hoped, he isnít the sort to hold grudges and look back. Instead, he views the situation surrounding his leaving Frisco as he always has, an outcome that was truly best for both himself and the club going forward.
ďWhether this year was going to be my last year or last year was going to be my last year, I think more than anything else, a change was probably needed on both sides,Ē Hyndman said. ďI think FC Dallas needed a change and I think Schellas Hyndman needed a change. I am so much more content with the direction Iím going today because I feel like I at least have some control over that. I absolutely have no ill feelings toward anyone.Ē
Stepping down last fall has also allowed him to regain something he feels like he hasnít had much of in his life over the past few years.
ďI donít miss not being in control. The league controls you. The club controls you. You like to go out doing it your own way and I think at times it wasnít my way but again, I have no regrets or no ill feelings towards anyone. The pragmatist in me says we didnít get it done,Ē he said.
However, even though he has been coaching in Dallas since 1984 and before that spent seven years coaching at his alma mater of Eastern Illinois, Hyndman does not rule out a return to his chosen profession, provided the right opportunity and situation presents itself.
ďI miss getting up in the morning and having some place to go, but I know those days will come again somewhere,Ē he said.
In his nearly six seasons with FCD, Hyndman was 63-58-58 and finished with 244 points, a franchise record.