Most players who pick up soccer in their youth rarely translate the experience into a full-time career. Felicia Kappes, however, is one of the rare ones. Her life is soccer and it has been that way since the age of 8.
A life of soccer
Growing up in San Diego, Kappes has been involved with the development and growth of competitive soccer in San Diego as a player, coach, and now Director of the College Program for Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks Soccer Club. Her soccer career started early on while she watched her mother coach competitively. Then, at the age of 8, she began to play for a local youth soccer league. It wasn’t until the age of 11, that she transitioned over to playing competitive club soccer. She continued her soccer career throughout high school and ended up at UCSD with Brian McManus as her coach. Her team was the first of its kind – winning UCSD’s first NCAA Championship in 1989.
Getting through tough times
As a teenager, Felicia went through the same struggles that many teens continue to face today. Struggling with the decision to attend a private Catholic school, her confidence was tested. “I came from a very low income household and was very intimidated by all the wealth,” said Kappes. Her issues with fitting in were normal, but, her talent on the field was the exact opposite. She excelled on the pitch, made wonderful friends and soon realized that material wealth was not as important as she believed it was. “I loved athletics and it was at that point that I know how important sports can be for young people,” said Kappes. The life lessons of working hard, playing within a team, sacrifice and setting goals were highlighted while Kappes played soccer as a kid in San Diego. Soccer helped Kappes get through the difficult times and because of that, soccer in San Diego was something Kappes wanted to be a part of permanently.
Giving back to San Diego
Kappes talks highly of the amount of influence the coaches she has had on the decision to turn her passion into a career. Kappes realizes that what she loves most about soccer is the ability to give back to the local community. “As a player, I was focused on my own personal internal goals. However, as a coach, you educate and develop players through this wonderful game we call soccer,” said Kappes. She has excelled at coaching and recently coached a two-time US Youth National Championship DMCV Sharks team. In coaching, she hopes to pass on the same life lessons that she learned over the last 25 years. “I see myself as a teacher. It is not about me,” and that is what continues her passion for the game.
In addition to her commitment on the field, her husband Mike fully supports her career in soccer. Mike and Felicia met while at UCSD – he played for the men’s soccer program at the same time she played for the women’s team. While her husband doesn’t coach, Kappes said “he loves the game as much as I do, so it is wonderful how much he supports everything I do professionally.”
Kappes is motivated and inspired by coaches that care about developing young players on and off the field. By mentoring the players and helping them become better people with soccer’s life lessons, she understands the responsibility of being an educator to the young people of the community. Her motivation to be a strong force locally is influenced not only by her coaches but the US Women’s National Teams of past and present. “We must be incredible role models” for young girls.
By continuing to coach in San Diego and witnessing a growing soccer community, Kappes has the opportunity to be a positive influence on the world.