Make Your Life Count

Jacques Ladouceur
Date Published: 
Make Your Life Count

Chapter 4


One beautiful spring day in upstate New York, Mr. D called me into his office and asked me if I had decided which four-year school I was going to attend. I told him that I was leaning toward Hartwick College because they had a great soccer program. He told me that he had received a call from Lincoln Philips. I asked him who that was and he said, "He's the head coach at Howard University." Mr. D explained, "Lincoln is one of the best coaches in the country."

Mr. D arranged for my teammate Conrad and me to visit the school. I gave him a worried glance and then he said that they would pay all of my expenses. I quickly answered, "Fine."

Coach Philips is from Trinidad, but when I first heard his accent, I naturally though that he was from Jamaica. He had played professional soccer for a number of years and was one of the top goalkeepers during his time. He played against Pelé in the North American Soccer League.

We took the train to Maryland and when we arrived at the station, Coach Philips picked us up. I liked him immediately because he was just a fun guy. He recognized very quickly that I was good looking, and immediately he told me that I was going to have some problems at this school. I asked him why and he said, "Because there are seven girls to every guy!" I thought to myself, Now that's a lot better than having fifty bars at Hartwick College! Besides, I couldn't care less about bars.

Coach Phillips has always been a great communicator, and he had a way with words that made me laugh, especially when the jokes were aimed at me. I was very impressed with his family. He had a super wife and three wonderful boys. The whole time that I was there we laughed about all kinds of things. I had been around long enough to know that he was not faking just to impress me, that it was real. He had plenty of Pelé videos, which I watched constantly. He taught me how to stand up for what I believe, and he showed me, by example, what a great family looks like. This was only the second time that I had seen that.

As I got to know Coach Philips, I was very impressed with his character because he is a man of principles. He once stated that he would die for principles, which reminds me of this story from Russia:


I loved Howard because of all of the traditions and all of the great people who had attended the school. I am always amazed at how some of the sharpest people I run into around the country, in many different professions, are Howard alumni. That makes me proud. However, the real reason I was there was because of Coach Philips. He worked us hard, but he made it fun. We had some great players who were almost ready to turn professional, and we had a good first year, which ended in disappointment because we lost in the playoffs.

There were some difficult times for the soccer program at Howard. Coach Philips felt that the soccer team deserved better treatment than the school was willing to give. I remember a time when we were not able to stay in a hotel prior to a playoff game that was five hours away simply because the school would not fund the soccer program.

There was much turmoil, and I was uncertain whether or not Lincoln Philips would be the coach there the next year. I was very disappointed because I could not see myself playing at Howard under a different coach. My biggest fear because real when they replaced Coach Philips with his assistant. That was the turning point for me.