COLUMBUS — Mike Zimmerman started as a youth soccer coach.
When his oldest son, Tyler, began playing in the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), Zimmerman’s brother-in-law asked him to help coach the team.
He continued coaching when his other two children, Cody and Chelsy, started playing soccer, following them through AYSO and eventually coaching their club teams.
He also coached softball and baseball when his kids were growing up.
In 2016, Zimmerman decided to volunteer as an assistant coach for the Lakeview girls soccer team after his daughter joined the Vikings.
When former head coach Quinten Lyon stepped down following that season, Zimmerman took over the role. In his first season as head coach, Lakeview finished 10-7, advancing to substate for the second straight year.
The 49-year-old Zimmerman graduated from Columbus High in 1986. After graduating from Southeast Community College-Milford, he got a job at Industrial Engineering, where he has worked the past 30 years.
Q: What were your 15 minutes of fame?
A: Finishing my first marathon.
Q: What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation (other than the sport you coach)?
A: I could talk about running and training for marathons. It’s really a passion of mine.
Q: What is your favorite activity outside of work and coaching?
A: Running and spending time with family.
Q: Best coaching experience?
A: I started coaching my daughter in AYSO when she was 5. I coached her in AYSO and then her club team, the Extreme. We had a great group of girls that I got to coach and watch grow up. When I had the chance to coach at Lakeview, I had the chance to spend two more years with my daughter and soccer. In addition to that, I also got to coach two other girls from their Extreme club team while at Lakeview. It was neat finishing out their soccer years at the high school level with of all these girls.
Q: Is communication key in a relationship?
A: In coaching, there has to be good communication. I like the girls to feel comfortable talking with me. I don't sugarcoat things with them, like if they ask me for feedback. I think they appreciate the honesty, and they know they can be genuine with me also. When you have a team, there has to be communication so we can work together in a united, coordinated way. We need to be able to make adjustments, give encouragement, set goals and even just have fun. All that takes good communication.
Q: Do you believe in fate?
A: I believe people can be in charge of their destiny. They can make changes and make choices that can take them in different directions. We are not tied down by fate.
Q: Do you believe in unspoken rules?
A: Yes I do. Some things should just be understood. I expect my girls to be courteous to the other teams. I expect the girls to care about their teammates, to respect all the coaches and teachers. It is an unspoken rule that all school and community rules are to be followed, and that grades are important. I also want to create an environment where it goes without saying that, in soccer, I expect the girls to work hard, but I want them to have fun. The kids sometimes have a lot of pressures. I think they need to have fun.