Kevin Grimes Retires As Cal Men’s Soccer Coach
BERKELEY – Kevin Grimes, the head coach of the California men's soccer team for the past 22 seasons and the program's all-time winningest coach, announced his retirement on Tuesday.
The 13th coach in the history of the program, Grimes completed his career in the fall with a record of 211-152-49 and a .572 winning percentage.
"I'd like to thank Kevin for his more than two decades of service to Cal Athletics and our men's soccer program," Cal Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said. "With multiple coach-of-the-year honors and more wins than any coach in our history, he has earned his retirement and leaves a legacy of success that extends from the field into the classroom and to life beyond Berkeley. Congratulations, Kevin, and thank you for all that you have done! We wish you the best as you begin the next leg of your journey."
"Time is tight," Grimes said. "For the past 22 years, the time at Cal with my players and assistant coaches has been some of the most rewarding times in my life. Never could I have imagined that I would have the opportunity to coach at the greatest university in the world for so long. My players are the reason I coach, and the reason I have pushed myself so hard, so that I could impact their lives. The trainings at Golden Bear field made the most impact on them. Valuable lessons were learned there, and all of our answers were always at Golden Bear."
A five-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year and three-time NSCAA Far West Regional Coach of the Year, Grimes led the Golden Bears to three Pac-12 titles (in 2006, 2007 and 2010). Under his watchful eye, the Cal program produced 13 postseason campaigns, with Grimes leading the Bears to the program's first NCAA Tournament win in 2002 and to the NCAA quarterfinals in 2005, 2010 and 2013.
The 2013 squad was ranked No. 1 for several weeks, was seeded a program-best No. 4 in the NCAA Tournament and sent more than half the team into the professional ranks, including Steven Birnbaum, Christian Dean, Nick Lima, Jose Carrera-Garcia, Seth Casiple, Christian Thierjung, Alex Mangels and Ryan Neil.
Grimes' 2010 team was equally loaded and consisted of several players who would go on to play in MLS, including Jimenez, Soares, Bingham, Servando Carrasco, Demitrius Omphroy and Davis Paul. Not to be outdone, the 2005 Bears included its own future pros in two-time MLS Cup champion Stefan Frei, Cal Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Calen Carr, Steve Purdy, Tyson Wahl, Javier Ayala-Hil, current Cal assistant coach Jacob Wilson and more.
The Bears also excelled academically under Grimes, with standouts Omid Jalali (2014), Aravind Sivakumar (2017) and Simon Lekressner (2019) each earning the Pac-12 Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
"The amount of people to thank is endless, but necessary," Grimes said. "Twenty-two years ago, Michael Sawyers and John Kasser took a chance on a 32-year-old coach in the making. The belief they had in me will not be forgotten. The athletic directors who followed were amazing and allowed Cal soccer to flourish and for me to grow as a coach. The entire supporting cast in the athletic department made coming to work a joy. My fellow coaches at Cal are simply the best. It's been an honor to work alongside these incredible people. They are my friends for life.
"The Cal soccer alumni have been nothing short of sensational since I've arrived. A special thank you to Derek Van Rheenen and his great work with our players' academic success. Henry Foulk, Jacob Wilson, Javier Ayala-Hil, Evan Sassano and Alec Sundly were amazing alums to work with on the coaching staff. Henry is the best goalkeeper coach I've ever seen and what a run we had together for the past 22 years.
"The coaches who influenced my playing career also influenced my coaching career. My St. Louis hometown coaches of Tommy Howe, Dan Gaffney and John Morhmann instilled in me an incredible sense of pride in our city's heritage, tradition and legacy that are unmatched anywhere in the United States. In college at SMU, I had the privilege of playing and coaching under one of our country's greatest coaches of all time, Schellas Hyndman. They all inspired me tremendously, which allowed me to impact my players at Cal.
"As for my family and me, the kids are doing a semester abroad and we look forward to some well-deserved time together. If an opportunity arises to remain in the game in the future, I'll consider it. In the meantime, I'll enjoy playing some soccer as well with the Veterans de Sitges, a collection of ex-professionals that just love playing the game … Go Bears forever!"
Grimes came to Cal after serving as an assistant coach at Southern Methodist University, his alma mater, for three seasons. During his tenure in Dallas, the Mustangs recorded a 50-11-2 record and earned three NCAA Tournament bids.
Before joining the SMU coaching staff, Grimes spent three seasons (1995-97) as coach of the Mission Viejo (Calif.) Pateadores Soccer Club, which is one of the nation's premier soccer clubs with numerous players competing at Division I programs across the country. He also coached the Irvine (Calif.) High School girls' varsity team from 1995-97 and the San Juan (Calif.) Soccer Club from 1993-94.
A decorated player, the Saint Louis native won the 1984 Under-19 McGuire Cup National Championship as a member of the Scott Gallagher Soccer Club. He was a Parade All-American and the Parade National Defender of the Year at Rosary High School. At SMU, Grimes earned two NSCAA first-team All-America honors and was a two-time finalist for the Hermann Award. He graduated from SMU in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in economics.
Grimes earned five caps with the U.S. National team, and he played professional soccer for eight years, most recently with the Orange County Zodiac of the A-League in 1997, when he was selected to the A-League All-Star Game. Grimes spent the early part of 1996 with the former San Jose Clash of Major League Soccer.
Jacob Wilson – himself a Grimes protégé who played for the Bears from 2006-09 – will serve as the team's interim head coach. A national search will be conducted to find the program's new head coach.
For more coverage of the Cal men's soccer team, please follow the Bears on Twitter (@CalMSoc), Instagram (@CalMSoc) and Facebook (@CalMSoc).
Kevin Grimes by the Numbers
- Overall record: 211-152-49
- 3-time NSCAA Far West Regional Coach of the Year (2002, 2010, 2013)
- 5-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010)
- 3-time Pac-12 champion (2006, 2007, 2010)
What They're Saying
"He's been a fantastic coach, friend and man for soccer. His playing ability speaks for itself, but what sometimes goes unnoticed was the contribution he's made to developing good young men who have gone on to represent the United States and Cal as pro players and to represent Cal beyond the game. I look at Kevin as my son. Since he was 18 he's been in my life. When he was at SMU and the Cal job was open, I helped him prepare for it, he got it, and he excelled at that job because of his love and passion for the game.
"I can't think of one person in the soccer world - youth, college, pro or international - who's ever had a negative comment about Kevin Grimes. If I had a son, I would want him to play for Kevin Grimes, who's passionate about the game but more importantly is a fantastic human being."
- Schellas Hyndman, Former SMU and FC Dallas Head Coach
"Kevin Grimes was a fantastic leader of Cal men's soccer, a great coach and even better human being! His teams always played an attractive brand of soccer and always represented Cal to the highest standard of excellence and class. He was a champion of growing the college game and was one of my original committee members advancing the two-semester soccer model. College soccer and Cal soccer are in a better place because of Kevin's legacy!"
- Sasho Cirovksi, Maryland Head Coach
"Kevin is one of the most dedicated people, to the game of soccer, that I've ever met. His love of the game made him a great player, and his enthusiasm for the game made him a tremendous coach. He has produced some of the great American players to come through MLS."
- Robin Fraser, Colorado Rapids Head Coach
"Kevin has become a really great friend to me and my family and his influence on my life has reached way beyond the soccer field. He has given my family so much friendship, guidance and fun, and I am happy to know he is able to conclude his time at Cal as somebody who has had an enormous positive influence on a large number of people.
"Kevin's principals define him and he instilled those principals in all of the players who worked with him at Cal. He values preparation, execution, and integrity over all, and this is why over his long period at Cal, you will find that he consistently prepared his players for both soccer and life, with these principals in mind.
"In college soccer, there are a handful of coaches or directors that stand the test of time, and Kevin is one of those people. He was able to stand on his principles and adjust with each year, each batch of players, and each circumstance, to finish his career at Cal as what can only be considered as legendary status.
"Thank you, Kevin."
- A.J. Soares, Former Cal and New England Revolution Defender
"Having Kevin as my head coach at Cal not only helped me realize what I needed to do to be successful on the soccer field but also in life. I'm forever grateful to him for his patience and willingness to care and motivate not only myself but all the teams through his 22 years of coaching. What an amazing accomplishment! Whether you know it or not, you have become a powerful role model in a lot of people's lives and have made a difference in the lives of many others.
"Kevin, thank you for everything during my time at Cal. We will forever be family, and you will forever be an important part of my life. Enjoy retirement!"
- Hector Jimenez, Cal Alumnus and Austin FC Defender
"As a part of Kevin Grimes' first recruiting class, it has been an incredible 22 years of watching coach Grimes reimagine the Cal men's soccer program into one of the most respected men's programs in the country. On a personal level, coach Grimes has been the single greatest coaching influence on my career and has created a wonderful platform for myself and so many others who have gone on to enjoy successful pro soccer careers. Coach Grimes' attention to detail, commitment to possession-based soccer and passion for the game have conspired to create a unique identity that has come to define Cal men's soccer for decades.
"Thank you, Coach!"
- Calen Carr, Cal Alumnus, Host of The Movement and Former MLS Forward
"Kevin took me in as a young kid at 17 and showed me how to play the game the right way. He converted me to a central defender because he had a vision that was best for my career, and I'll be forever grateful to him for that. Kevin was almost like a father figure to me while I was at Cal. You'd come to him for everything. I have the utmost respect for him and how he treated me as a player and us as a team. I wouldn't be where I am today without him."
- Steven Birnbaum, Cal Alumnus and D.C. United Defender
"So much to say about KG and the impact he had on my life. He was much more than just a soccer coach during my time at Cal. He was a teacher, who became a mentor, and will always be a great friend. He built something truly special at Cal. That camaraderie and culture that he leaves behind will continue to live on long after his coaching days. Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your journey at Cal and the legacy you leave behind. Go Bears!"
- Servando Carrasco, Former Cal and MLS Defender
"Kevin Grimes has been an exceptional coach throughout his time at Cal. His attention to detail in molding players into pros and, more importantly, better people is evident in all the players that have come through the program. I say THANK YOU, Kevin, and I wish you all the best in your next adventure."
- Stefan Frei, Cal Alumnus and Seattle Sounders Goalkeeper
"Kevin has built an incredibly special program at Cal and he has had a tremendous impact on the lives of countless young men. He embodies the word success, and he's honestly one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He will be missed, but he is leaving behind a legacy that will inspire us all!"
- Terry Boss, Oregon State Head Coach