Commitment to Our Communities: Tom Coburn
When Tom Coburn and his family moved from Kalispell to Columbia Falls in 2015, they brought their love of soccer with them. Tom’s enthusiasm for the game has helped fuel the growth and development of the players in the Montana Flathead Rapids club.
A native of Pocatello, Idaho, Tom grew up on the Portneuf Valley Soccer Club’s pitch where he played through high school. He signed on with the University of Idaho where he majored in mechanical engineering and earned both academic and athletic scholarships.
Now, as a senior mechanical engineer and Kalispell’s Buildings Market Group office leader at Morrison-Maierle, Tom is still devoted to soccer as a coach, board member, and program director for the Rapids.
While his past experience and love of the game may seem like reason enough for being so involved, Tom says his ability to provide kids with guidance and positive experiences are really his primary motivators.
“Growing up, I was lucky enough to have coaches that brought out the best in me. I’d like to think that I can have that same kind of positive impact. Coaching isn’t just about learning the game, it’s about embracing ideals like sportsmanship, teamwork, and hard work.”
Similar to his engineering career, Tom’s involvement with the Rapids is long and committed; he’s been either in a management or coaching role (and many times both) since 2016. He was asked to join the board in 2017 and program director in 2019 where he (alongside many other dedicated people in the area) worked to expand the recreational program and introduce the competitive program to Columbia Falls. In the last five years, the Columbia Falls program has almost doubled in size from around 250 kids to over 400 per season. He says he spends, “between five and 10 hours a week on soccer” for the Rapids.
“Growing up, I was lucky enough to have coaches that brought out the best in me. I’d like to think that I can have that same kind of positive impact. Coaching isn’t just about learning the game, it’s about embracing ideals like sportsmanship, teamwork, and hard work.”Tom Coburn
Like many larger communities in Montana, thanks to Tom, the board and many of their fellow dedicated volunteers, the Rapids now have both fall and spring seasons as well as offer a summer camp and an adult league. This past spring, the Rapids rostered nine competitive teams, from U-10 through U-17 in Columbia Falls alone.
For more information on the Rapids and how you can get involved too, go to flatheadrapids.com.