Andrew Lissner just finished coaching his 20th year for Carlsbad Lightning Soccer Club. I believe he has been with the club longer than anyone in Lightning’s history. Andrew started coaching for both of his daughter’s teams in 1993 and coached his younger daughter Elise from Kindergarden right through to her Senior year of High School. After taking a year off from coaching when Andrew’s team graduated, Elise brought up the idea of coaching a team together as father and daughter for their neighbor Marissa who was in Kindergarden at the time. Marissa’s mom had Multiple Sclerosis and was wheelchair bound, but before she got MS she was an incredible soccer player, loved the sport, and wanted Marissa to be able to play.
Andrew loved the idea since he missed coaching so he thought coaching alongside his daughter for a little girl who was like family to them would be a great fit. Elise got a team of girls together in 2005 when they were just 5 & 6 years old and the next chapter of Andrew’s coaching career began. Andrew, having already coached from division 6 all the way through division 1, had the knowledge and experience of coaching girls at each stage of development. However, going from 18 year olds back to 5 year olds who didn’t know their left from right, couldn’t tie their shoes, and whom 8 of their 12 girls hadn’t touched a soccer ball before made the task a bit more challenging!
After a great first season and winning most games, despite having 10 out of their 12 girls on the younger side of the division, Andrew and Elise decided to continue the season by participating in the Commissioner’s Cup. They didn’t know if they stood a chance, but the girls loved playing on the Lissner’s team so much, they decided to give it a shot. Against all odds they won their first commissioner cup!
Most of the team continued to come back year after year and the Lissners also embraced and loved the challenge of getting new girls to work with each year. In 2009, Marissa’s mom Cyndy was quickly declining and her dad decided to sponsor the team as “Cyndy’s Angels” and this is where the true legacy began. That season the girls had a fantastic season going undefeated. Cyndy was wheeled to the side lines each and every Saturday to watch her daughter play and blossom into the best player on the team. Every week after the game Cyndy thanked the Lissner’s for all the time and effort that was put into coaching these girls so she could watch her daughter shine. Cyndy’s Angels won the Commissioners Cup again that season without being scored on, which was a huge feat since in Andrew’s 20 years of coaching he has not once had an actual goalie on the team! It’s always been ‘goalie by committee’ as he calls it, which goes to show what an amazing coach he truly is. ” We play for the fun of it , it has never been about the wins,” says Lissner.
Four days after their final All Star Tournament that season, Cyndy passed away. From that point, on the Lissner’s team has since been known as “The Angels” in honor of Cyndy. Ever since that season in 2009, the Angels have only lost one regular season game in 5 years! Andrew has coached All Star teams for the past 7 years and every season but one the team has either reached the finals or made it to the Semi’s.
The parents all continually comment on Andrew’s calmness on and off the field, even when dealing with unruly coaches, parents, and especially the girls. The girls come back year after year for many reasons. Yes, they love the game of soccer, yes, they love playing with their friends, but they truly love the laid back coaching style of Coach Andrew. Ask any girl on their team and most would say they would never play for anyone else. The relationships built, lessons learned, and fun had made the girls WANT to learn, succeed, and do their best. At the end of each practice the girls would complain that it went by too quickly and that they wanted to keep practicing. It takes a special coach like Andrew to make that happen, especially with a bunch of 14 year old girls! He instills in them a desire to be the best they can while learning new skills and most importantly having fun and actually enjoying soccer while they fall in love with the game.
Andrew has dedicated nearly one third of his life to coaching for Lightning, and the past 8 have been for children that aren’t even his own. He has taken each and every one of them in as an adopted daughter and made them the best they can possibly be both on the field as players, and off the field as young ladies. His selflessness, devotion, and generosity are one of a kind. For a man that works 50-60 hours per week, you would never think he would have time to make such an impact and have such great devotion to the girls. But he does because he loves it, he loves soccer, he loves coaching, and he loves the girls and their families and there’s no greater reward than that.