Some might say it was fate that Rick became a Soccer for Success coach-mentor.
One day, Rick noticed someone walk into the Foot Locker store where he worked as a manager trainer. She was wearing a U.S. Soccer Foundation t-shirt and as a soccer fan himself, it caught his eye.
It just so happens that, around that time, Rick was considering resigning from his role at Foot Locker so that he could spend more time with his son. “I was making a lot of money, but I didn’t have a lot of time for my family,” Rick says. “I always knew that I wanted to raise him in sports.” But this chance meeting with the stranger in the Foundation t-shirt was just the first fateful encounter.
His next chance meeting would be on the soccer field. Rick was running a youth club team and found out that a local Kansas City Soccer for Success team competed in the same league. This compelled Rick to set up a meeting with the youth recreation director to learn more about the after-school program. “It all happened for a reason,” he notes. “After that, it was a no-brainer that this is what I wanted to do.”
Knowing that it was going to be a financial risk to leave his job to join the Soccer for Success staff (he commends his wife for taking on the financial responsibility during this time), Rick discloses that it only “took one day in this program to realize I did the right thing.”
For months after his father started coaching with Soccer for Success, Rick’s son would tell anyone he could about it. “Did you know my dad doesn’t run the stores anymore? He’s a coach now,” he would declare. Needless to say, Rick says his son was extremely happy with the change.
Years later, after participating in Soccer for Success programming as a kid, Rick’s son is now walking in his father’s footsteps, taking on a coaching role as well. “We taught him to be a leader at an early age through this program,” Rick says of his son.
But Rick’s son and other Soccer for Success participants are not the only ones who learn and grow from this program. “From a father’s standpoint, I learn every day from these kids,” he says. “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned, whether it’s from being a coach-mentor or a father, is being able to take the time to listen to kids and hear what they have to say. In return, at home, it has helped me be able to listen to my kids,” he reflects.
Moreover, Rick recognizes that his experience in Soccer for Success has helped him learn to be more patient and, in turn, be a better mentor. “Dealing with these kids and hearing some of the stuff they have to say, and actually listening to them, and hearing their views, it helps me be able to make better decisions and give better advice,” he says.
And Rick has high hopes for the future of Soccer for Success. “I would love to see soccer in the streets of this whole city,” he asserts. “What we provide on a daily basis for free is amazing and it’s almost unbelievable,” Rick says of the power of the program. “Not only are we giving them life lessons, but we’re learning.”