Samii: From Iran to local soccer community
Mehdi Samii is an example of how soccer, family, community – and really the whole world – comes together.
And it all comes together this weekend when the Comstock Shootout holds its boys tournament.
Among the teams who will take the field on Saturday and Sunday in the tournament being played at Edmonds Park and Mills Park will be the Capital Soccer Club’s Carson Patriots under-12 boys team. The team is coached by Samii, who made it to Carson City by way of Iran.
“I’m just a player,” said Samii, who says he’s really not that important on the local soccer scene. But he’s well aware of the many people who have made it possible for him to coach soccer and the be part of the community.
He ticked off many of the community’s soccer leaders, including Carson High girls soccer coach Randy Roser, CHS JV boys soccer coach Joe Briggs, the co-director of the Comstock Shootout, Kevin and Diane Updegrove, Greg Davis, Max Jones, John Chavez, Jeff Mohlenkamp and Michelle Taylor, who co-coaches the Patriots with Samii.
“These guys are just fabulous people,” said Samii about those in the soccer community. “They’re like family to me.”
Samii was born in Iran in 1959 and played soccer there as a child. He was sent to boarding school in England and went on to study math and physics at the University of Birmingham in England.
While he did play for a club soccer team in England, he actually spent most of his time playing rugby. But his first love always remained soccer. “I have a passion for the game,” Samii said.
Samii didn’t go into many details when it came to how he came to this country. He said he really has nothing to hide, but that he’s just a private person, which is part of the Iranian culture.
But he was lucky enough to make to the United States on Aug. 15, 1979, right during the time of the revolution that placed Ayatollah Khomeini in power. “I was lucky enough to get a Visa to come to the United States,” Samii said.
Samii hasn’t been to Iran since the spring of 1976 when he was there for the Iranian New Year.
He orginally came to New York and then to Southern California before joining his business partner, Eric Rauch, to settle in Carson City. “He’s like a brother to me,” Samii said.
“Carson, I found it just a wonderful city for me,” Samii also said. “It’s small enough to raise a family. I’ve met the most wonderful people.”
Samii said he had to learn some perspective when he first began coaching soccer. “I was a fiery coach,” he said. “To me winning was everything. I realized that wasn’t the case. You have to develop the kids and winning will come later.”
He said he also learned how much he had to learn as a coach when he watched Douglas High boys soccer coach Milko Vasquez coach his son, Michael, in youth soccer.
“I’m a terrible coach after watching Milko coach my kid,” said Samii about what he told himself. “I’ve evolved to be an OK coach after 15 years.”
Michael has also played Pop Warner football and Mehdi said watching the Pop Warner coaches work with his son has also influenced his coaching style.
Samii had been the coach of the Patriots 14 and under team, which under his direction won a tournament in Idaho and Reno’s Friendship Tournament. He and Briggs also took the team to the Mayor’s Cup in Las Vegas, the state’s toughest tournament. The highlight for the team at that event came when it was able to tie one of Utah’s top clubs.
Briggs has taken over the 14 and under club, allowing Samii to focus on the 12 and under team.
“The younger they are the less they talk back,” Samii said. “And they want to learn. I love kids. They’re all like my kids.”