Part 1: Mooch was one of a kind
I have something to say and with the help of some friends, I intend to say it.
MICHAEL KAMMARMAN, U.S. men's national team press officer:
As the days have gone by since Mooch's passing, it seems to have become even more difficult to grasp that such an immense man has been taken from us. I know that in the spirit of how Mooch lived that this should be fun, lively, and contain at least one joke that might not be appropriate in polite company.
|Glenn Myernick Tribute|
|Glenn Myernick was an assistant coach for the U.S. national team. He also formerly coached the Colorado Rapids in MLS.
During his national team playing career, Myernick earned 10 caps and served as the squad's captain in 1978. During his college career he also won the 1976 Hermann Trophy and later played eight seasons in the NASL.
On Oct. 9, 2006, Myernick passed away at the age of 51 after failing to regain consciousness following a heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, their son, Travis, and daughter, Kelly.
ESPNsoccernet will be publishing a tribute by Jimmy Conrad and friends to the late Glenn Myernick this week. The five-part feature will run daily.
We'll certainly get to that -- but in the meantime, as I've already started searching for a bottle that would make my wine mentor proud, it seems equally as appropriate to reflect on the man and how our travels through this existence have been so immeasurably impacted by his presence. So I hope you'll forgive me -- particularly those on the USMNT staff for which my use of big words is the source of endless well-intentioned abuse -- if I try to make a little sense of this.
I think the hardest part of the process is trying to put thoughts on paper when it seems like words simply aren't capable of helping us express the depth of loss that we feel so intensely. How does one put such sorrow into words?
Having had the privilege of reading the hundreds of e-mails that people have sent in with their memories of Mooch to ussoccer.com, I've seen many common words -- passion, love, family, commitment, integrity -- and I have come to realize that rather than those words describing him, it was Mooch who gave them depth and humanity, allowing many of us to fully comprehend their meaning. He was the very embodiment of those ideals that we all aspire to achieve -- five minutes around Mooch and his family made that obvious.
Those of us fortunate to be exposed to his universe could only feel admiration and wonder for the man whose pure joy in living the human experience was evident whether you met him once at a coaching clinic or had the honor of being called his friend. Someone once said that life is as simple as you are strong enough to make it -- clearly, Mooch was mighty in that regard. Perhaps if we can follow his lead, something positive will have arisen from something so tragic.
|“||He was the very embodiment of those ideals that we all aspire to achieve. ”|
|— Michael Kammarman|
Many of us on the national team staff have eagerly embraced the opportunity to help with the arrangements for the private celebration that the Myernick family will host in November. We've been trading memories, photos and ideas on how best to celebrate Mooch's life in a way that reflects how he lived it. With the strength of Nancy, Kelly and Travis, there's no doubt we will all succeed. We've managed a lot of laughs to soothe some of the tears, his spirit is clearly our inspiration. It occurs to me that in this process it feels like we are planning a party for someone who is still with us, and of course, he still is. With the comfort of that comprehension, finding the right words doesn't seem so important anymore.
TONY MEOLA, goalkeeper, New York Red Bulls:
I sat down trying to explain to my kids who Mooch was and what he meant to me. Explaining these types of things is difficult when dealing with kids. Sometimes a picture is best, so I told them that "this friend of Dad's had passed away and it's sad," and they asked me who he looked like or reminded me of and I told them that "he had a mustache and a big huge infectious smile, just like Pop Pop," my dad.
That's how I thought of Mooch, with the same regard I have for my dad. Always asking about family first and soccer second. I told my kids that Daddy's friend was someone whom I was glad the Lord let me have in my life for a while. I am better for knowing him and seeing his example. We have prayed as a family that his wife and kids will find peace with all of this one day soon.
BRIAN BLISS, head coach, K.C. Wizards:
There are a lot of Mooch stories (and boy could he tell a story) but there is one that I like the most because I have used it and tried to live by it:
I was at a national team function and was standing off to the side having a friendly conversation with Mooch when some random lady came and nicely interrupted us in order to rain praise on him. She spoke about all the great things he has done for soccer, the things he was currently doing for the men's national team, and what a role model he and the others have been to her sons and their team. Knowing Mooch, these things were all true, so in an almost embarrassing and sheepish way, he replied, "Thank you, but this is what we do."
This to me said a lot about him because he never put too much importance on what he did/we do (coaching) in this grand thing we call life. Mooch was soccer, but he was life.
KASEY KELLER, goalkeeper, Borussia M'gladbach and U.S. national team:
I have known Mooch for many years, he was a good person and someone I am better for having known. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. We'll miss you, Mooch.
RICK GUTER, athletic trainer, U.S. national team:
The other day after Mooch had passed, I was talking to Sigi [Schmid] about some stuff, and it really struck me that the coaches who seem to be the most successful are the ones who get it. They are the ones who have the right balance in their lives. They know that the game of soccer is not what defines them, but is merely something that they do for a living. They understand that the most important people in their lives are not the players, but it is their families, and I think of all of them, Mooch got it the most.
THOMAS RONGEN, U.S. U-20 men's national team coach:
I feel blessed to have known Mooch. He has left such an amazing legacy. His flame burns bright. You are always in our hearts.
Jimmy Conrad is a defender for the U.S. national team and Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards. He contributes regularly to ESPN.com.