VISTA — Team-oriented sports can shape character, commitment and with the right coach, a moral compass. Matt Hall, the director of coaching for the Vista Storm Soccer Club, has this innate gift.
For Hall, who grew up in Vista, soccer molded his life in a variety of ways. It paved the way toward self-confidence, gave him scholarship opportunities, a career in the sport and the ability to give back to the youth in his hometown.
Established in 1982, Vista Storm has been a soccer hub for many kids — Hall was one of those kids. The club has a full spectrum of age groups, the youngest starting at 7 all the way up to high school seniors.
“Vista Storm was the first club I ever played in until I was about 14,” Hall said. “I had to move on because, at that point, my ambition as a player was greater than that of the club — and that’s one of the reasons why I came back is that I don’t want kids to have to leave Vista Storm to fulfill their goals.”
Hall began playing for Vista Storm in 1984 for a total of eight years. To take his playing to a higher level, Hall went to a club called Pegasus out of Rancho Bernardo, which is now called the San Diego Soccer Club.
“I was part of a team that ended up winning three state championships,” said Hall, adding that they won other very prestigious tournaments. “I went there, had a great career with them and used that as an avenue to get a scholarship and play the next level.”
Soccer has had a positive impact on Hall’s life. Hall was a child of a single mother and had two other siblings.
“We didn’t have a lot growing up,” he said. “Fortunately, my mom got me into soccer because candidly, I grew up in an environment where we had a lot of peer pressure. Soccer was always something for me that made me choose the right decision.”
While soccer instilled a sense of teamwork and character building, it also gave Hall an environment where he could focus on the positives in life. His team was like a second family with lifelong friends.
“My best friends in the world are people that I grew up and played soccer with,” he said. “In many ways, the team was just like school where you were taught right and wrong — you learned lessons. In my opinion, it was irreplaceable in who I became.”
In Hall’s senior year at Vista High School, he played goalkeeper. His team won the first CIF Championship.
“I was fortunate enough to be recruited to play at San Diego State University,” he said.
Hall played the position of goalkeeper throughout his sports career. He thrived under pressure.
Hall played at San Diego State for three years. He then transferred and played at the University of San Diego in his senior year. Hall graduated as a history major and thought he’d become a teacher.
“I value education, but as my life progressed, it just steered me towards coaching,” he said.
Hall began his coaching career at San Diego State in 1996. Today, he is the associate head coach for the San Diego State Men’s Soccer program.
In his third cycle at Vista Storm, Hall works hard raising the level of awareness of soccer to kids and families.
“I just always want to continue talking about soccer being an avenue for young people’s lives,” he said. “I want to express that soccer can be so much more than a pastime. It can be so much more than something you do on Saturday or Sunday. There’s a lot of opportunities for young people to better themselves through the game of soccer such as life lessons, character building, teamwork and camaraderie.”
Hall is quick to point out there are educational opportunities in that a talent in soccer can get you a scholarship to a college.
“There’s money and opportunity to be had through scholarships,” he said. “There’s just a tremendous amount of things you can achieve through the game if you have the right drive and ambition.”
Hall never even thought about being a director of coaching at Vista Storm — it wasn’t something he was pursuing.
The board of directors reached out to him on the matter.
“A few years ago, our club experienced a crisis with some board members and decisions they made. We were put in a difficult position of hiring a qualified director of coaches, in a short period of time,” said Lupe Farias, president of the Vista Storm Soccer Club.
Farias said Hall had built an impeccable reputation as one of the head coaches in the Men’s Soccer Program at San Diego State University.
“Knowing that Matt grew up in Vista, we reached out to him about the position,” Farias said. “Meeting with him, hearing him talk about what our club meant to him growing up, knowing that his heart remains in our city was a key factor in hiring him. Our club is primarily run by volunteers, individuals that not only love the sport of soccer, but love our city, and the kids in it.”
Hall took the position. Farias describes Hall as pouring his “heart and passion” into the club since he arrived.
“Matt has proven to us that we made the right choice,” Farias said.
Hall said he believed that taking on this position would be significant.
“It was an opportunity for me to use myself as an example to help the community of Vista and help our young people,” he said. “I feel really fortunate to be in this role.”