Kevin Olali (Youth Soccer Coach)

Kevin Olali is a youth soccer coach in Dallas, Texas.

Born just outside of Dallas in Garland, when Olali was seven years old he migrated further north to Plano, a move that initially upset him.

“When I was in the second grade, I cried on my first day of school when my mom dropped me off because of the new environment, and I was missing my old friends,” Olali recounts with a laugh.  

“But since then, Plano has been an awesome place to live.”

As Olali immersed himself in Plano, his shy exterior soon gave way to an affable demeanor that erupts once he feels comfortable.

“In that sense, I’m an extroverted introvert,” Olali says.

As a child, he began playing soccer at the behest of his father, but his dad didn’t need to convince his son of the game’s draw because soon Olali was obsessed with the world’s most popular sport.

“The game of soccer became an addiction,” Olali notes.

That fascination for soccer fueled Olali, and in high school he developed into an athletic wing who drew interest from several Division-I college programs around the country.

After contemplating his options, Olali ultimately opted to enroll at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

“USF allowed me to further develop as a player, and it gave me the opportunity to be seen by a number of professional scouts,” says Olali, who during his time as a Bull appeared in 64 games.

Several Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs expressed interest in drafting Olali, citing his superior speed and raw potential as reasons for why he could one day grace an MLS field, and in 2012 Olali was drafted by the Seattle Sounders.

That year, during offseason workouts, Olali immediately impressed the Sounders’ coaching staff, and he was told by a team exec that if his stellar play continued, he would be offered a contract for the upcoming season.

“I was so excited that I called my dad when I got back to the hotel that night. I really thought I had a future in professional soccer,” he says, but like many talented athletes, Olali’s promising career was soon beset by a nagging foot injury.

This ailment limited his ability to perform during the rest of the offseason, and simultaneously spurred concerns from the Sounders coaching staff that he could make the next season’s roster.

“Seattle waited a few weeks to see if my injury would heal, but it wasn’t progressing as fast as they wanted, and I was cut,” deadpans Olali, who later learned that his chronic foot injury was likely due to the cleats he wore back in college.

“Back then, USF had a contract with Under Armour, who at the time was testing shoes, and we were the guinea pigs for this experiment.”

On multiple occasions, Olali voiced his concerns about the viability of the Under Armour shoes to USF’s coaching staff, but no action was taken to find an alternative solution, something that even today irritates the Plano native.

“I have a lot of bitter feelings about everything that happened with that,” says Olali, who tried to resurrect his soccer career after being cut by the Seattle Sounders, unfortunately to no avail.

“I simply was never able to get back to the form that allowed me to elevate to the professional level.”

A disheartened Olali spent the next few years away from soccer, his passion for a game that once seemed like a path to financial stability replaced by the reality that his future was now tragically uncertain.

“I did everything that had nothing to do with soccer,” Olali says of his hiatus from the pitch.

More time passed, but a once distressed Olali was eventually drawn back to the game when an opportunity to coach the next generation of footballers arrived.

But unlike some might expect, Olali’s goal wasn’t to help the youth realize their own dreams of soccer superstardom.

Instead, he wanted to take his own experiences and show others how to embrace the present, but also account for the future.

“When I first started, my idea of coaching wasn’t to try to help guys go pro,” Olali says.

“It was more about elevating the team and getting them to collectively buy in and accomplish goals. By doing that, they could learn leadership qualities that would transcend far beyond the soccer field.”

His position as a midfielder swapped for a sweatsuit and a whistle around his neck, Olali brought an intensity to the sidelines that many kids were clamoring for, but he also quickly recognized that his desire to give guidance off the field was much more in need.

“That became particularly troubling for me as I met more and more guys who didn’t know anything beyond soccer,” Olali admits.  

“And I didn’t like that one bit because as coaches we were not setting kids up to be successful in life and to transfer the skills they learn through the game into everyday life.”

Of course, many youth coaches reiterate their concern for their players’ well-being off the field, but far too often those words are devoid of action, a cacophony of politically correct talking points espoused to engender good faith among the parents hovering along the sidelines.

In that sense, Olali is built different, his efforts to shape the youth not predicated on what he thinks others may want to hear, but rather from having endured the excruciating agony of a dream lost that only a handful of athletes ever encounter.

“I see it as my job to help ensure that the kids I coach are successful when they’re 30, 40, or 50 years old,” Olali stresses.  

“Winning soccer games is cool, but I also want to see my kids go on to be leaders in their community.”

It’s this level of commitment that has Olali excited for the coming years, a period where he hopes to disseminate his message to coaches on a larger scale, regardless of if they patrol the sidelines on a field, court, or dugout.

“I’m starting with soccer, but I want my influence to go beyond soccer and have an impact on all types of youth sports,” Olali says.

“I want it to become normalized for kids to become leaders so that when they get older, they’re already familiar with doing things to benefit the community and the collective, as opposed to just them and their athletic aspirations.”

An avid reader who is constantly looking to complement his skillset by learning from others, Olali knows that it will be difficult to become a recognized voice of reason in a youth sports culture that often encourages the grandiose in lieu of statistical realities, but perhaps he is exactly who the younger generations need right now.

Not a motivational speaker who will inundate malleable minds with far reaching possibilities, but someone who will inject a necessary dose of truth and remind us that our lives don’t have to be perceived as exceptional in order to matter.

“I used to be bitter about the fact that I committed so much time to soccer and things didn’t work out. I realize now it was all for a purpose, and I want to show kids that their value or their perception of themselves isn’t limited to what they can do with their feet, but what they can do to positively impact the lives of those around them,” explains Olali, who then offers up one more stark reminder for coaches.

“Coaches need to understand this: it’s likely that none of the kids you coach will go pro, so knowing and understanding this reality, think about what you can do to contribute to their lives.” QS


Today’s post is sponsored by Business411!

A bit about Business411:

Elizabeth Calzadilla and her team help roofing contractors across the country increase their revenue and develop their businesses by offering specialized branding, marketing, and consultation services.

If you’re in the roofing and/or home service industry and are looking to level up your business, then click this link or scan the QR code below to get in touch with them today! 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: