A Man Who Puts His Team First

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A Man Who Puts His Team First

Isaiah smiling outside his office in his new role as Assistant Athletic Director.

Isaiah smiling outside his office in his new role as Assistant Athletic Director.

Isaiah smiling outside his office in his new role as Assistant Athletic Director.

Isaiah smiling outside his office in his new role as Assistant Athletic Director.

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Isaiah Schwerin is the teammate that everyone wants. Behind his warm smile that can brighten even the darkest corners of the dejected Annex, there is a fierce sense of loyalty and resolve that can be felt even just meeting him for the first time.

Isaiah is not a runner, not a swimmer, not a tennis player: he plays for his team. While some people go through life living only for themselves, taking the last muffin in the café and cutting the lunch line, with a noble yet modest spirit, Isaiah is constantly thinking of others. As one of his colleagues perfectly states, “If you ask for a favor in a group email, Isaiah is the one that will write back two seconds later and volunteer.”

As a soccer coach, long time player, and the newly appointed Assistant Athletic Director, Isaiah has always been a dedicated team player. Even the way he talks (in short bursts then all at once when soccer is the topic of conversation) screams teammate. His hands move in angular motions as he speaks as if outlining a play on the field and he hunches over when he needs to say something important like he is gathering for a huddle. When he isn’t speaking, he genuinely listens to others, nodding or giving the occasional, “Awesome!” or “I love it!”

When asked about what he has learned from his teams over the years, Isaiah casually crosses one leg over the other, leans back in his desk chair, and muses, “You know, as we go through life, we’re all going to be on teams.”

Isaiah’s first team was his family. After his father passed away when he was seven, Isaiah, his mom, and his brothers became their own tight-knit unit, who constantly supported and challenged each other to be better. Growing up in a household with four brothers, Isaiah had to “get his food quick” and rapidly learned that everything was a competition. As the second oldest, Isaiah became a role model to his three younger siblings and despite the fact that his four brothers now live all over the world (in Vietnam, Puerto Rico, New York, and Pleasant Hill) they all remain close. As he states, “I’m big into family. It’s really important to me. And [to] my wife, I think that’s one of the things that we really found that was a bond that we shared: family first.”

His second team was soccer. As he got older, Isaiah learned to channel the energy of his brotherly rivalries towards sports. Growing up in Western Massachusetts, Isaiah threw himself into every sports-related opportunity he could find. He tried baseball and basketball, but the passion he felt for the fluid energy and fast-paced cadence of soccer was unmatched. Giving up basketball (where he always held the height advantage) and playing pickup indoor soccer games during cold winters, young Isaiah dreamed of becoming a professional player.

Cold mornings and late afternoons on the soccer field solidified Isaiah’s role as team player, teaching him how to “play nice in the sandbox,” put the team’s needs before individual glory, and not get wrapped up in his own ego and self-evaluation.  

While Isaiah did go on to play collegiate level at Menlo College, in Atherton, his dreams of playing professionally were sadly thwarted because, as he, never one to wallow, states: “Life dictated otherwise.”

Despite this prematurely cut-short soccer career, Isaiah was not quite ready to give up his soccer team and turned to coaching as a way to stay connected to team culture. From collegiate level soccer, Isaiah moved to a boys’ 10 and under recreational team in the East Bay.

Isaiah on the right, just out of college, with one of the first teams he coached in the East Bay. (Photo courtesy of Isaiah Schwerin)

Even from this first rowdy, stumbling team of nine-year-olds, Isaiah saw how he could transmit his passion for the game to younger players. He, “fell in love with training a team at practice during the week and then seeing how they did on the weekends, seeing the progress, seeing the ideas come to life and quickly became hooked on coaching.” After coaching in the East Bay for many years, Isaiah then moved to Marin, where he began coaching MA JV soccer in 2014, later becoming the Assistant Varsity Coach. 

Coaching allowed Isaiah to foster the type of healthy, supportive teams that had been so integral in shaping his own identity. Over the years, Isaiah has seen kids go from “introverted, tie-dye sock-wearing outcasts, so to speak,” to empowered leaders of the team. Much of this growth is due to the fact that he acknowledges every one of his players and treats them like actual teammates: “When I see my kids, [I] first call them together, greet them all: “How are you guys doing? What’s going on? How was your day? [The] same thing if I’m gonna substitute a player. I always get up off the bench. You give that player a high five.” As a coach, Isaiah believes that positive reinforcement is imperative in fostering a supportive and productive team atmosphere, proving his belief that “[coaches] really are armchair psychologists in a lot of ways for sure.”

This past year, Schwerin made one of the toughest career decisions of his life: leaving his team on the field and entering the office as the new Assistant Athletic Director. Isaiah states: “It was tough. I weighed heavily on the decision whether to take the full-time job knowing that I couldn’t coach.”

Although the first couple weeks of the soccer season were hard for Isaiah as he knew his teams were down on the field training without him, his transition to a new office position gave rise to his third team: the MA community. While Isaiah admits that the plethora of team photos that line the walls and shelves of his office make him a little nostalgic, he upholds that “the tradeoff of getting to know more kids and becoming more involved with the community here has definitely eased that “loss” of the mentorship piece as a coach.”

As the Assistant Athletic Director, Isaiah has had the opportunity to reach all student-athletes, not just soccer players. While his days are now filled with schedule coordination, meetings with coaches, and research on official regional league rules, he does this all with genuine dedication and his trademark boyish grin.

It is this ability to adapt to any situation and to throw himself completely into everything that he does that makes Isaiah the ultimate teammate. Although family and soccer will always be his first teams, Isaiah is a part of many teams. He is part of the classic rock team, yerba mate team, Hemingway-lovers team, and Marin Academy team. In a tribalist world, filled with competing parties, groups, and organizations, a strong affinity with a team is vital. And if life is a game, I’d want Isaiah to be on my team.