FRISCO, Texas (December 15, 2023) – US Youth Soccer (USYS) is pleased to announce that Dr. Tom Turner has been selected as the recipient of its 2024 Dr. Thomas Fleck Award.
The Dr. Thomas Fleck Award was designed to honor a lifetime of dedication where one has, with integrity, honor, humor, and humility, made extensive and far-reaching contributions to the process by which youth soccer coaches are educated in America. Turner is the 20th recipient of the esteemed award, which has been granted annually since 2005, and will be honored in Anaheim, California, during USYS’ awards gala next month.
Turner’s love for the game started in his playing days and he continued to find new ways to leave his mark on the sport after he hung up his cleats. His earliest roles on the sideline were with two high schools — Euclid and North Olmsted — and two local clubs — East West and Emerald — in his home state of Ohio, where Turner’s ascent into head coaching and higher-level positions began.
He was appointed as the men’s head coach of his alma mater, Cleveland State University, in 1987 and would lead the Vikings for six years before moving on to a full-time role with Ohio North Youth Soccer Association. Turner had previously worked with the State Association’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) and was brought aboard as the Director of Coaching and ODP head coach, two positions he would hold for nearly a decade. In addition to Turner’s role on the state-level, he was the Region II Olympic Development Program Head Boys and Girls Regional Coach for multiple years, a member of the National Instructional Staff for nearly two decades, and is a two-time Adidas All-American Team Head Coach.
Turner’s success on the sidelines opened many eyes, including those at U.S. Soccer. He was named an assistant coach for the 1997 U-16 Women’s Youth National Team and in 1999, Turner was an assistant for the U-20 Women’s Youth National Team at the Pan American Games.
Turner was also an integral part of multiple committees that were tasked with growing the game. In 1994, he was selected as a member of the FIFA World Cup’s Technical Committee, which was the highest attended event in FIFA history and the first on American soil. Turner also sat on U.S. Soccer’s Coaching Task Force and Grassroots Coaching Education Study Group, as well as numerous US Youth Soccer panels, including the Coaching Committee, Grassroots Coaching Committee, Regional Coaching Committee, Committee of Operational Excellence, Midwest Regional League Committee, and National League’s Great Lakes Conference Committee.
Turner has always been eager to pass down his knowledge to the next generation, and he continued to do so as he reflected on his career. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and a Master’s in Education from Cleveland State University, as well as a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction: Sport Pedagogy from Kent State University. As a coaching educator, it’s estimated that Turner held more than 800 courses and worked with coaches in 36 different states, leaving a lasting legacy of stewardship.
Turner’s footprint on the sport is not limited to one area, yet spans in its entirety. For more than four decades, Turner held the role of either player, coach, or educator, and while his position may have changed, his devotion to soccer never did.
About the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer)
US Youth Soccer, the largest youth sport organization in the country, is on a mission to provide world-class support, resources, and leadership, helping every member fulfill their goals on and off the field of play. US Youth Soccer registers nearly 2.5 million players annually. Through its programming, resources and leadership, US Youth Soccer is advancing the game for its 54 Member State Associations, 10,000 clubs and leagues and one million administrators, coaches, and volunteers. US Youth Soccer connects families and communities to the power of sports and its shared love of soccer. US Youth Soccer provides a path for every player, coach and referee offering programs that provide a fun, safe and healthy environment at every level of the game.