It’s difficult to tell who was having more fun at Thursday night’s Impact Soccer KC practice session, the youngsters who were on the Pink Hill Park soccer field or their coach, Missouri Comets defender Brian Harris.
He is mixing it up with the youngsters during a scrimmage, encouraging them every minute of the two-hour session and making an impact on their young lives.
“We are so blessed and lucky to have Brian as a coach,” said Impact Soccer KC manager Heather Hoyle, whose 8-year-old son Tristan is part of the team. “Just look at him. You know he’s having as much fun as the kids, yet he’s teaching them about soccer.
“He knows you can teach them so much more when you make practice fun. Why don’t all coaches do that?”
That’s a good question – one that 8-year-old Joey Summers can answer.
“I love playing for Brian, because he teaches us about soccer without yelling at us,” the young Lee’s Summit resident said. “My old coach just yelled at us the whole practice. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t fun and I didn’t learn anything. Brian never yells – he’s nice. And we learn a lot more when we have fun.”
That could be the motto of Impact Soccer KC: Learn while you’re having fun.
“Brian is a great coach because he teaches us and he makes us laugh,” 8-year-old Mettalisse Wintermeyer of Oak Grove said. “He talks to us, and gets out on the field and plays with us. We like him so much we want to work hard for him.”
Charli Scharfenkamp, 8, whose older sister Darby was a standout soccer player at Grain Valley High School and is now an assistant coach for Impact Soccer KC, adds, “Brian is so cool, and he’s funny. He was an MVP for the Comets and works us hard, but he likes us. We all laugh at the stuff he says when we’re not working. These are the funnest practices ever.”
When he’s not making his players laugh – with his extended cry of “G-o-o-o-o-o-a-l!” after a player score, Harris is teaching his players about something that is much, much more important than soccer.
“We can make a mistake, and he will tell us what we did wrong,” Tristan Hoyle said, “but he never yells at us. He makes us want to work hard because he is so nice and he knows so much about soccer. I am so lucky to have him for a coach. Every kid should have a coach like Brian.”
During one drill, Harris has his young players running in place, their legs pumping up and down like pistons. He then tosses them a ball, and has them kick it back to him, without skipping a beat in their running in place drill.
“That’s one of my favorite things in practice,” said 9-year-year old Gavin Mygatt of Independence. “He does all the drills with us, and makes it fun. If we make a mistake, we don’t get yelled out. He just teaches us and laughs with us.”
It’s easy to see that soccer and teaching are two things Harris is passionate about.
“I think the name Impact Soccer KC is huge,” Harris explained after high-fiving his players and sending them off to join their parents. “I wanted to create a team concept and a name that would have, well, an impact.
“In soccer, it seems like there are the rec leagues, then there are the leagues where parents think their kids are going to be pros – there was nothing in between. And that’s where I want us to be – in between.
“We’ll be competitive, and we’re going to learn. But I also want to make an impact on my players’ lives. I am one of the fortunate few who can make a living playing soccer. I want them to love the sport, but I also want them to be respectful, and be good kids – and most of all, have fun.”
Darby Scharfenkamp said working with Harris is a real learning experience.
“Brian is the best at what he does,” said Darby, who will play junior college soccer at MCC-Blue River this fall. “He was MVP of the championship series, yet he works so well with little kids. I’ve learned a lot just by watching him. My little sister really likes playing for him, and I like working with him.”
Harris echoed that comment.
“I’ve learned a lot from working with Darby,” Harris said. “I see the way she talks to the kids on the team, especially the little girls, and they really pay attention to what she says. She’s like their role model. When she’s done playing, she will be a great coach.”
Just another Harris’ protégé, making an impact on the lives of young people.
• Impact Soccer KC is looking for youngsters to fill positions on 6-under, 9-under, 10-under and high school girls teams. To get more information go to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Impact Soccer KC on Twitter or Facebook.