For months, Kansas City Comets goalkeeper Mark Saxby has been wondering who the team’s new head coach would be.
As it turns out, he’s been working side-by-side with him in the team’s new Hy-Vee Arena office space.
The coach is familiar to Saxby and all Comets fans. Longtime Comet Leo Gibson will become a player/coach this season, replacing Kim Roentved, Gibson’s first coach when the franchise started 11 years ago.
“I just saw Leo yesterday and he didn’t say anything about being our new coach,” Saxby said. “I’ve seen Leo more than my family this offseason as we’re all working, getting ready for the season and we’re so excited.
“Leo worked a lot with us last season as an assistant coach. He has the utmost respect of every guy on the team. The Comets couldn’t have made a better choice.”
Gibson signed a three-year deal to lead the Comets through 2022.
Gibson, a native of Liberia, has reached legendary Comets status since the franchise’s rebirth in 2010. He’s scored more goals (245), accrued more points (456), created more assists (211) and played more games (177) than anyone in team history. He also was named Major Arena Soccer League MVP in 2014.
“I feel honored. It’s something that I’ve dreamed of, so I was excited for the opportunity and the challenge,” Gibson said Tuesday. “I’ve been around this team since they got back into the league in 2010, and I’ve worked with every coach that has been a part of this organization. I feel like I’ve learned from them, and I’m looking to bring a little bit of different things I felt like were a success, and just my own experience.”
The team will soon name an assistant coach, goalkeeper coach and strength and conditioning coach.
“The challenge of a player/coach is something that’s not going to be easy, but it’s just something that I look forward to, figuring out how to balance it,” added Gibson.
“My goal is to prepare the team and make sure they’re ready to compete, to win, and to be a good representation of the organization on the field and off the field – nothing short of that.
“Building a team that will have good chemistry and that will understand that our No. 1 goal is to represent this organization in the best possible way.”
Comets managing partner Brian Budzinski said Gibson is the logical choice for the position.
“When you think of who you want to represent your organization to the community in which you live, Leo Gibson personifies every quality imaginable,” Budzinski said.
“After numerous interviews with multiple candidates, I kept coming back to Leo. He understands the modern indoor game, he has a tireless work ethic, he is a man of faith, and he is respected beyond reproach by his peers. I can’t tell you how excited I am to officially announce Leo as the leader of the Kansas City Comets moving forward.”