Fort Osage High School boys and girls soccer head coach Michael Brown has had to make a little adjustment in his first summer with the Indians.
For the past six years, Brown was the head coach at Oak Grove, a smaller community. Now, he’s a bigger city at a bigger school with more students.
So far, he likes the change and being closer to home.
“I am loving it so far,” Brown said of being at Fort Osage. “We have large numbers, a big coaching staff and three teams. It’s been interesting and challenging, but it’s been fun.”
Brown, an Independence resident, accepted the head coaching job in March after Andrew Fletcher decided to step down from the position to take a job as a recreational league coordinator in Kansas.
“I saw the job posted along with the social studies position,” Brown said after it was announced that he was hired. “I decided to try it out to see what the next opportunity was. Coaching Independence kids will be new and exciting for me. Coaching at the Class 4 level will be a good experience as well.”
Brown will go from coaching in the Missouri River Valley Conference West to the larger Suburban Middle Six. He will also be making the jump from Class 2 to 4, and knows he will see a jump in competition, but also a jump in talent.
“It’s been a little different,” said Brown, who is running his first Fort Osage summer camp this week. “The talent is a lot better and it’s good to see some boys who have played some soccer before and they are adapting well to me. It’s made my job really easy.
“We played some big-time schools in the MRVC. Grain Valley (boys) have been to state the past two years and Harrisonville was really good. Coming here is a jump, but it’s not quality that I haven’t seen before.”
Brown said that he’s had more than 40 players from the high school and middle schools at camp every day. And so far, he’s liked what he’s seen.
“The boys are working hard as you can see, even in the heat,” Brown said. “We have a lot of kids and we have the middle schoolers out here and are getting them introduced to the program. We’re expecting a lot more come season time. A lot of people are still on vacation and things like that. I was told we didn’t have very many seniors last year, so we’ve got a lot of returners coming back (for the varsity team). We’ll have some experience.”
And that’s made things easier for the young coach, who guided the Oak Grove boys soccer team to a 2011 Class 2 state quarterfinal appearance and helped the girls team earn its first playoff win in 2015.
“It’s been easy because these guys are all good leaders and get everyone going and get them stretched,” Brown said of his returning starters. “They help motivate the other players.”
Right now, Brown said he’s not sure what type of system or shape he will run with the varsity squad. But he knows he wants to take advantage of the grass field whenever the boys have a home game.
“We’re one of the only schools that play their home games on grass,” Brown said. “We can use that to our advantage. Maybe we can catch other teams off guard with the grass.”
And doing that could lead to more success. Brown hopes he can guide the boys team back to the district championship game for the second year in a row.
“This team did well in conference last year and made the district finals, so we would love to be back there,” he said. “I think they lost by one in the district finals so hopefully we can win it this year. That would be a phenomenal goal for us.”