Tom Tilson was born in Long Beach, California and raised in Riverside. He learned to play soccer and fell in love with the game at an early age. During his final year at Cal Poly Pomona, he was hired as a walk on coach to start a soccer program at Riverside Poly High School by Dr. Thorstad, the principal. From that point on, he was a trailblazer on how to conduct a successful soccer program.
Tom is known as the “Godfather of High School Soccer” in Riverside because of his distinguished 35-year coaching career. He began in an era when high school soccer was unheard of and players would wear football jerseys while playing. His 621 wins, against just 114 losses and 80 ties, is the most in California Interscholastic Federation history. Tom led the Bears to the 1994 CIF Title and to numerous league championships during his tenure and was named 2007 California Coach of the Year. The Tom Tilson Soccer Tournament, named in his honor, is now an annual high profile sport competition, which attracts the top soccer teams and players in Southern California.
Tom is widely known as a true gentleman of the game, one who consistently played by the rules and who was a leader by example. He never received a red card from an official.