Part II: An interview With Local Michael Costello, A Key Figure in Local Soccer Circles

After enjoying a local international legal career, Olivette resident turns to teaching at UMSL.

This is Part 2 of an interview with St. Louis native, former U. City resident now Olivette dweller who teaches in semi-retirement at UMSL.

Yesterday, Costello talked about the particulars of his international business and legal career for several Fortune 500 countries. Today, he talks about how soccer fits neatly into his life.

Patch: Lets switch subjects. How in the world did you get involved in soccer.

Costello:  I started after I finished law school, I did post-graduate study in Europe. You can’t be there very long without being exposed to soccer.  (They call it football).

The first time I got to London, all these people were wearing hideous scarves in the bars.Turns out, they were wearing the colors of their favorite soccer teams.

When I went to Belgium, I went to Brussels and got to know the British soccer players on the club teams. When I went to parochial school in St. Louis, the nuns would throw you onto the parking lot and toss you a soccer ball. That’s all you had for recess. I wasn’t a very skillful player, but at least I knew how to kick a ball. We put together an American side and beat the leading Belgian Saturday elite club.

When I came back from Europe, I had a brother, 18 years younger and started coaching his parochial team. After he got to the 8th grade and he quit that and I didn’t pick it up until my kids entered the University City School District. School officials said unless you help coach, you can’t put a kid into (our program).  I coached both children through the grade school, middle school level.

I would joke with the refs, and they would say, if you think its so easy, why don’t you come over to our side. I started referring about 10 years ago.

Patch: At what level do you officiate games.

Costello: I do the U. City recreational league. I do USSF soccer. I’ve gone to the region 2 Olympic Development program and I do both high school for boys and girls. I am slowing down. I would say I am not one of the elite refs but one of the good middle level refs. I am on the board of directors of the high school soccer referees association. I am focused on our efforts to improve internally our organization but also to improve the skills and fitness of our members.

Patch: Keeping up with a bunch of 16 and 17  and 18 year olds is a lot of work.

Costello: That’s the challenge. I say every year they stay 18 and I get a year older. And they are getting faster. You have to be able to move to be in the right position to see what’s going on. Positioning is everything.

If you understand lanes in soccer, your objective is to be close to the play, but stay out of their lanes.

Patch: What is your take on the world of business.

Costello: I find business fascinating. At the end of the day, no matter what you are doing, it take money to run things, whether it is a university, a school district or a business. The wise investment of money for a determined outcome is so important. Whether a student is in nursing or education, it is the dollars and cents that drives the outcome.

Patch: Name one really unusual thing that had an important outcome on your life.

Costello: Back in the 1970s, I was asked to study Chinese at SLUH. I didn’t have any idea why at the time. I am not able to really converse, but there are things that you pick up. As you put a little bit of the history together, you start to work things out. Languages are an insight into how people think, and what they value.

When I went to work at the law firm, they explained something to me. You will have a secretary and she speaks four languages fluently. Her father is a French attaché to Yugoslavia, and she is harder to replace than you are.

I joke with people (about speaking multiple languages): I tell people I can get a beer and find a bathroom anywhere int he world.


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