Archive for Thursday, August 9, 2007

New world order

August 9, 2007

Soccer is everything in Germany, played and adored with a passion unseen in America.

That's the sport Gunar Harmon wants to bring to Eudora.

That's the sport he's confident can become a winner, even as the program has struggled through its first five seasons.

"I only have one rule -- 100 percent effort," Harmon said.

He expects results, and he doesn't plan on waiting long. He doesn't think he'll have to with the big senior class he'll happily inherit.

"We're going to get better. We'll take baby steps next season," he said, "but this year, with so many seniors, it'll be run what you brung."

If Harmon comes across as a soccer enthusiast, he is. He learned the love the sport as the Germans do, growing up there before moving to the United States.

He's been more than a fan, though. He has been a part of the Kaw Valley Soccer Association in Lawrence for 10 years and has spent five years on the Kansas Olympic development committee.

That equates to a heck of a lot of time both watching talented players ply their trade and teaching the ropes to the inexperienced.

"I've worked with kids as young as four years old," he said.

He's also already stocked with experience at the high school level. Harmon has been coaching both the boys and girls teams at Lawrence's Bishop Seabury Academy. The boys won't have a team this fall, however, and when he went looking for another coaching opportunity, he found exactly what he wanted in the Eudora Cardinals.

"Coaching high school soccer was a natural progression for me," he said. "It's a good fit here because the players want to be there and they want to do well.

"There are good athletes that are raw on experience and very coachable."

Harmon has had plenty of opportunity to check out his players this summer in camp, but he had a good idea what he was getting himself into even before he showed up. The Cardinals went 2-14-1 two years ago and were 3-13-2 last season. The team they've had the most success against has been Seabury.

"I know they're athletic, having coached against them for two years," he said. "The cupboard isn't bare."

His past battles with Eudora don't account for Harmon's only experience with the Cardinals either. He's the team's third coach in as many seasons. Last year's coach, Matt Higgins, made more progress than anyone else and leD the team to its best season, but quit during the offseason.

His assistant, Paul Thevarajoo, stayed on to assist again this year. Harmon hopes that's just the start of the program's consistency.

"Paul and I feel that we can capitalize on last year's successes," Harmon said. "I want to help build a program. I'm not a big fan of taking a job as a stepping stone, so I'm here as long as they'll have me."

Now, he said he's eager both for Monday's start to practice and the Aug. 28 season opener, a home game against Gardner Edgerton.

It's not just the soccer ball that has him looking late in August, however. He and his wife are expecting their first child, of course due on Aug. 28.

"I'm excited. Soccer is the one part of my life that makes sense to me," he said. "There are 17 rules in soccer, and the first five cover the size of the field and the ball. That leaves 12 that you have to follow.

"There's no manual for having a baby."

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