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Familiar Faces: Soccer club president is international traveler

By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
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Fritz Libby is better known in the El Dorado Hills area as being the president of Ethos Soccer, a competitive soccer club in its second season. In China, in addition to his soccer background, he’s better known as the co-founder of Dulwich College Management International and has established its schools in Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou in China and in Seoul, Korea, and Singapore. His China trips are frequent and even when he’s in El Dorado Hills, he still has to maintain a China time zone. His life work involves education and soccer and balancing the two.

What made you move to El Dorado Hills?

I moved to El Dorado Hills about two years ago. I love the schools here and the community. I’m so impressed how people here are so involved and supportive of their kids. They help out in the schools and shuttle their kids back and forth from activities.

Why did you feel the need to start another competitive soccer club in El Dorado Hills?

I wanted to get involved in the community. Last year we had seven teams and this year, which is our second season, we have about 12 teams with kids ranging from ages 8-14 for a total of 150 kids. It’s wonderful to have choices. There’s value in all the clubs. There are great people involved. They each have their strengths.

Ethos in El Dorado Hills is the fourth soccer club I have played a leading role in starting. The others are in all in China. This summer we’re doing a club trip to China. We’ll be combining a bit of soccer, touring the sights and doing some charity work. I’m going to be creating links between this soccer club and the others. Just recently, we had 37 boys that came from Ethos Beijing and played in a Las Vegas tournament.

What do you like most about your job?

I’ve been fortunate. My whole life has been about starting something from scratch. It’s the reward that I get from creating something from nothing and that something that has had such a positive and international aspect to it.

What were you doing earlier?

When I was at Chico State University, I coached and balanced graduate school with a pro soccer career. While doing my graduate studies, I also played with the New Mexico Chiles and Reno Rattlers and at the same time worked at an international school in Athens, Greece. After Greece I moved to Indonesia, Australia and then finally China where I was in new school management and establishment. I spent a total of 11 years in China. I’m still traveling back and forth to China.

What are some of the most interesting things that have happened to you?

One of the biggest things has been moving back home for the first time as an adult. Transitioning back to working life in the U.S. has taken me by surprise. Dealing with group dynamics is very different than overseas. I left when I was 26 and came back after 18 years.

What unique experiences have you had living overseas?

Most of them are related to travel and experiencing different cultures in unique places all over Europe and Asia. Among my favorites are some of the things my children got to experience that they wouldn’t have had a chance to if they lived here. Those include seeing them riding elephants bare-back on the beach in Malaysia and going up Perfume River to visit holy sites in Vietnam in tiny primitive boats and riding horses to visit Buddhist temples deep in the canyons of Mongolia.

How have your kids adjusted to all the changes?

I’ve exposed the kids to so much. They’re quite resilient. They’ve lived 10 different houses. I built the schools they went to. Since it was the same school system they were able to transition easily. They have a very open-minded and broad view of the world.

What’s you favorite place you’ve traveled to?

I love Southeast Asia. The culture has so much history (which was my major) amd different influences from different cultures. We spent a lot of our time in Malaysia during our family vacations.

Do you give back to the community?

I support charities in China. We work with special need schools and support the largest foster care agency. We send students and their families to build homes in Thailand over Christmas. My 13 year-old son volunteers with the Special Olympics.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I’m a history geek. I drag my family to historical sites. I love the I-49 corridor and that’s one of the reasons I moved to this area.

Tell us about your family.

I’ve been married to Christine for nearly 20 years. We met at Chico State. Nico is my 13-year-old who does Jiu Jitsu, plays drums and mountain bikes with the Jr. Trojans. When he was 10 he was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. He loves writing and is working on a book. Milo, 11, plays soccer for a team that I coach and is part of a singing group. Sophia is 7 and is into everything

Who has been the biggest influence on your life?

The most influential people in my life were soccer coaches. I really appreciate the value of education and the sporting influence of coaches and teachers in raising kids.

What is one thing about you people might be surprised to learn?

I can balance any large object on my head for a long time. After balancing a soccer ball and stopping one on my head I realized that I could do more. I balance chairs now. It’s a party trick.

Do you have a favorite quote?

Open up as many doors for the kids as possible and give them the tools to choose which one they want to go through.