Grimes Brings Soccer Pedigree to Cal

Oct. 30, 2001

BERKELEY - When the sport of soccer runs through your blood like it does Kevin Grimes', it only seems obvious that he does what he does at the University of California - coach the men's soccer team.

Just like every other kid growing up in the United States, Grimes grew up loving sports and playing them whenever the opportunity presented itself. The only difference was that he had other forces that shaped and influenced what he played.

'I wouldn't say I was pushed by my parents to play soccer,' said Grimes. 'But it seemed like every time I was around sports, I was around soccer.'

He was around it so much because Grimes grew up in the soccer capital of America. St. Louis has long been considered by many to be the Mecca of the sport.

But most importantly, Grimes also had family influences allowing him to develop into a star soccer player that other children never had. His father was one of the best amateur players to play in the city of St. Louis. John Grimes played on eight city championship teams and became legendary among soccer fans in this Midwest city.

The accomplishments of Grimes senior earned him an induction into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame. Although it honors the movers and shakers of soccer figures in just one city, due to the far-reaching influence of the municipality on the sport of soccer, an invitation to this hall is the equivalent to the selection into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

There was also his brother Keith, four years his senior, who played soccer at Regis College in Denver for two years, before moving on to letter at Missouri for the remaining years of his eligibility. Kevin and Keith had more than just their father to look up to when looking for soccer influence.

Move across the family tree to their mother's side, one can find Leo Vogt, their maternal grandfather. Vogt, who past away when Grimes was in eighth grade, played a more indirect role in Grimes' development as a player, but not any less important.

'My grandfather was no longer involved in the game by the time I was born,' Grimes recalled. 'He was more of a fan. Him coming out, watching and supporting me, was one of the biggest things he did.'

Leo Vogt was also inducted into the city's soccer hall of fame, but Grimes' grandfather did one better than his father. Vogt was selected into the St. Louis Hall of Fame for contributions to the city through various sponsorships throughout the decades.

The soccer pedigree with which Grimes has been bred gave him all the tools he needed to succeed in the sport. Backyard battles with Keith and his father and Thanksgiving church outings were some of the opportunities that Grimes had to fine-tune his skills as a player and as a future coach.

'I was always the youngest and I always had to be a step above, step sharper or a step faster in order to keep up with them,' said Grimes. 'And by doing that, I was constantly playing against older kids, stronger kids and bigger kids. So whenever it got to the point where I played with kids of my own age, I had an advantage.'

Grimes than took this advantage to Southern Methodist to play soccer for the Mustangs. In his four years at SMU, he was a two-year captain, a two-time first team All-American and a two-time Hermann Award finalist, which is given annually to the best collegiate men's and women's soccer players. After his playing days were over, Grimes continued what his did as a player as a coach, helping to build what is now one of the most successful college soccer programs in the country at SMU.

So was it the environment that made the man, or did the surroundings just highlight the natural abilities of this individual?

Ask Keith Grimes, and he tells you that the second-year headman at Cal was more than the beneficiary of a soccer legacy.

'When I was coaching him in junior high, he was a little bit more advanced than other kids,' said Keith Grimes. 'He was a natural leader, an extension of the coach on the playing field.'

Grimes admits that things did come a lot more natural for him, but he does give credit to his family background for making him the technically sound player and coach he's become.

Austin Ripmaster, one of only three seniors on the Cal squad, says that that's one of the reasons why Grimes is coaching for the Bears now. The forward also credits the coach's attention to detail in addition to Grimes' leadership skills for what he anticipates as a bright future for the Cal men's soccer program.

'He does the necessary steps to make sure that we're there,' says Ripmaster, who was on the selection committee that selected Grimes as head coach in 2000. 'And that's the difference. It's the little things, it's the tidbits about food, the extra work at practice on foot skills. He's so thorough and he just doesn't miss. He doesn't miss anything. He pays attention to every minor detail, and if he thinks something needs tweaking, he's not afraid to do it, even at the expense of seeming like he's the bad guy.'

Things are already turning for the better at Cal with Grimes at the helm of the program. After posting a 6-13-2 mark in his first year, the team has already exceeded 2000's win total with an 8-5-1 mark thus far this season, including huge victories over No. 14 San Jose State and No. 4 Washington. Cal also has a realistic shot at the postseason for the first time since 1996.

Grimes has brought his winning ways and three generations of soccer influence to Berkeley from St. Louis via Southern Methodist, and he hopes that the story of the Grimes-Vogt family legacy continues through his tenure at Cal.

'When you have those roots from your parents and your grandparents, I think sometimes you're destined to be a part of that culture, that soccer culture, and that's what I've been a part of,' said Grimes.

By David A. Song

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