While the on-pitch coaches have been settled for the men’s side of The Mighty Oak, there is a key member of the staff that may go unnoticed by fans of the club, but not by the staff. AFC Ann Arbor will welcome back Marionito, or simply ‘Tito’, Schwabe for his second year with the club as the Director of Player Personnel. With the position, as Eric Rudland highlights, “Tito will bridge a lot of the conversations between the players and staff and look to make sure that the experience we are providing players is second to none both on and off the field.”
Tito’s story with the club starts back approximately a year ago in the spring of 2018 as a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University. To graduate with a Master’s of Science in Sport Management, Tito said, “One of the requirements…was to obtain an internship.” That was when he received an email that AFCAA were looking and interested. He served as the Director of Soccer Operations, which included things like picking up players from the airport upon first arrival, assisting athletic trainers, providing foam rollers and ice for recovery, and simply being around the players. “When I joined AFC in Spring of 2018, I would never have guessed how much that season expand my view of the potential and opportunities at the professional level,” Tito described. This new position, while meaning more responsible, simply serves as an expansion on a job those around the club already know Tito in.
Rudland notes similarly when discussing Tito’s return to the staff, “In his new role this season, Tito will be able to build off of the relationships he started to cultivate last season with the players and the technical staff.” As a familiar face, like the entire coaching staff for the 2019 season, this helps to allow returning players to settle into familiar surroundings as quickly as they may have before. Additionally, with an already established structure, this also can help ease those newcomers into place that little bit quicker.
While perhaps the role is known, who is the person behind the role? Tito has been described as a “servant leader” by Rudland, who says he, “…is always putting others before himself and looks for paths to go out of his way to make sure that everyone else is being looked out for.” Tito, himself, has never played collegiately or semi-professionally. “The only experience I can compare is when I was 16 years old playing with the North Texas ODP State Team in Monterrey, Mexico,” he says when discussing his own playing career. No matter of his own experience level, he has been around many levels of sport itself. His coaching career started about ten years ago at Coppell High School in a suburb near Dallas, Texas, as a volunteer assistant coach. Now, most recently, Tito has accepted the job as Women’s JV Head Coach at Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, while also serving as an assistant to the varsity squad. He is set to receive his USSF ‘D’ License by May of this year and intends to pursue a United Soccer Coaches Master’s Degree in Soccer Coaching.
In addition to the job aspect of coaching, Tito is involved in multiple other projects. This past summer, Tito describes, “I was introduced to MOVE Fitness and Wellness during one of the recovery days where the team came in for a recovery session. I have been in constant communication with MOVE and will be taking Instructor Courses this year in hopes to gain certifications and experiences in order to better assess and implement recovery plans for various sports injuries.” Thinking ahead for the club, he adds, “These certifications will help tremendously in my interactions with AFCAA players as they encounter injuries and assist in the recovery process mentally as well as physically in conjunction with the athletic trainers.” Perfectly encapsulating his personality, even with an impressive and exciting opportunity for himself, he is thinking about the greater good as a whole.
As one would imagine, Tito has an unfathomable number of stories when it comes to player interactions. His first interaction with the squad brought about a comical moment, even. He described it for AFC, “At the New Kit reveal at WideWorld my first interaction with the players I approached Brandon Katona and he said, ‘Hi my name is Brandon are you one of the new players on the team?’ I laughed and said ‘No I am the new intern.’ He replied, ‘Well you look young enough to be on the team.’”
Tito also describes Stanley Okumu’s particularity for ice after practice, “While I would get the ice in the bags he would hover over and say, ‘A little more, a little more.’” The fondness the entire AFCAA family is no surprise, and Tito has many more stories to share. We are pleased to welcome Tito back, and to announce he will be appearing on Welcome to Tree Town, the official AFC Ann Arbor podcast, next week.
About AFC Ann Arbor
Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.