- December 8, 2011
Pull quote: “I don’t think we’ve ever even argued, which is weird,” Monsanto said. “Our wives and families get along. There’s a love there that the schools and colors can’t shake. You couldn’t have planned it better.”
The year before they took positions at both high schools, the Flagler Palm Coast-Matanzas rivalry soccer match erupted into a team fist fight back in 2007. That kind of activity had come to be expected, seeing a couple of police officers were always requested at the games. But, when Rich Weber became head coach for the Pirates, and Reg Monsanto an assistant for the Bulldogs, the immediate goal was to change the culture of the rivalry, to make it a little, or a lot more friendly.
“We were thinking about keeping our kids from high school soccer because the rivalry was bad at the time, and they were buddies,” Monsanto said. “We didn’t want them fighting against each other.”
Now, a lot of the players from each team are best friends. Before graduating last year, their sons, Nate Monsanto and Nick Weber, along with other players from both squads, always embraced and after games, and they all met up before and after their rival match to eat together. Even after heart-breaking losses, players hug opposing players like family members.
“It’s a great testament to our friendship that there’s hugs and kisses before and after the game,” Monsanto said. “It’s exactly what we want it to be. The guys hang out after the game together; it’s just awesome.”
Perhaps, the new high school soccer culture wouldn’t have been possible without the two coaches becoming best friends 11 years ago, when Weber began to coach Nate in a recreation league.
“He took him under his wing, almost like his second dad,” Monsanto said. “I hate other guys coaching my kids, which is bad, so, if it was anybody else, other than Rich, I wouldn’t have let him. I sensed something in him that was like me, and we became friends because I trusted him with my kid.”
When Weber took over the PDA competitive soccer program, two months after becoming a coach, he brought on Monsanto to assist him.
“Everybody thought it was crazy, but we’ve done everything we said we were going to do,” Weber said. “We’ve grown from 60 kids in low-level soccer, playing in third divisions, and now, within five years, we’re playing in nationals; it’s been pretty cool.”
Now the program is home to nearly 800 competitive and recreational players during the fall and spring, and year-round it hosts tournaments that welcome dozens of in-state and out-of-state teams, which bump the city’s economy.
“We’ve been impacting soccer in this area for a long time,” Weber said.
Weber and Monsanto’s friendship has also impacted the music community. When Monsanto’s former band, Low Profile, needed a drummer, Weber mentioned his son, Nick, to his friend.
“I was like, ‘He’s 16 (not enthused),’” Monsanto said. “Then he said, ‘Just bring him in and let him play one song, so you can see if he’s ready.’ I brought him, and he nailed it; he played Metallica and nailed it.”
Then, when Nick Weber graduated and went off to school, and Monsanto went on to acoustics, Weber mentioned that he could play the drums.
“I was like, ‘Sure (not enthused, again),’” Monsanto laughed. “But, again, we experimented, and it worked out great. We play four or five shows together, so now, I have my best friend hanging out with me, playing music and soccer; I couldn’t ask for more.”