Part 5: Mooch was a devoted family man
The tribute to Glenn Myernick continues:
PIERRE BARRIEU, strength and conditioning coach, U.S. national team:
Mooch was extremely in love with Nancy and so proud of his children Travis and Kelly. One night in the team hotel in L.A. he invited Gail and Thomas Rongen, Florence and me up to his room. Here we are in his room, which has been transformed as a video-editing room. And there, on the wall of the room, using the same projector that has been showing countless tapes of Czech Republic, among others, all day long -- he showed us a DVD of the Houston Ballet with Kelly being the lead ballerina.
During the World Cup training camp, he arranged to be there for Travis' college graduation day, and miss only one practice in the process.
I will always remember him as an exemplary husband, father and friend.
ERIK LIEKOSKI, 36-years-old, friends with Mooch for 34 of them:
Mooch babysat me while he was in college playing for my dad at Hartwick.
Apparently, I could be "difficult." I can't even relate the story as well as Mooch could, but suffice it to say, one night he had had enough and rolled me up in a carpet and stuck me in a corner.
I think all I wanted was to be able to stay up and watch "The Six Million Dollar Man." That or I wanted more ice cream.
Also, according to my mom, it was my dad that introduced him to Nancy.
I will deeply miss that guy.
JIM FROSLID, former U.S. national team press officer:
I will remember Mooch Myernick for his humor, his genuineness, his story telling, his fitness and perhaps most importantly his attention to family. I last saw Mooch at a U.S. national team game. I used to fly all over the world with him when I was the press officer of the national team, so I considered him a friend. There was your typical commotion on the field after the game as fans were yelling for autographs. I yelled for Mooch and he came straight over with a big smile. We spoke for about five minutes and he proceeded to walk happily (as he always seemed to) toward the locker room.
After walking 20 yards he stopped and came back to me. He started to tell me about his daughter and her success in the Houston Ballet. He remembered that I was living in Minneapolis and encouraged me to see her perform in the Twin Cities. He was so proud of her.
Here a big soccer game had occurred but Mooch wanted to talk about his daughter, not soccer. I was not able to see his daughter perform in Minneapolis, and I regret it now. This past weekend my wife and I happened to attend the ballet in Chicago. It was "Cinderella." I thought of Mooch often that night. I gained an appreciation for ballet that I never had before. There are a lot things people gained by having Mooch in their lives. His glass was always half full.
JEFF AGOOS, former MetroStar and U.S. national team player:
To say I am shocked at the passing of a friend like Mooch Myernick is an understatement. Mooch always had a passion for life. Soccer, however, was just an ingredient in his soup of life. His dearest passion, no question, was his family. As a national team coach you are always on the road. Mooch would always perk up when we talked about soccer, about teams, about players. You could tell soccer was in his blood.
But the real twinkle in his eye came when we talked about family. His family was not as much a luxury as it was a necessity. He was more proud of his family's accomplishments than he ever was about his own. His family was the fuel that kept him going.
|“||His dearest passion, no question, was his family ”|
|— Jeff Agoos|
Mooch always looked for new and different experiences. I remember being in the training room getting treatment while watching a movie. Mooch walked in and started watching the movie with the other players in the room. After a few minutes he said, "I've already seen this movie. I'm going to find a new life experience."
That was Mooch in a nutshell. He strove for new life experiences. Life was what interested Mooch so much. Soccer was just a part of that experience. We will miss Mooch, not so much for the talented coach he was, but for the person we all wished we could become. There are not enough Mooch Myernicks in the world.
CURT ONALFO, assistant coach of U.S. men's national team:
I am honored to call Mooch a dear friend. I have spent more time with Mooch than my own family the past four years, and he taught me so much. Life lessons always surround this great game of soccer we are all part of, and that is certainly where he helped me the most. He was so deeply caring and romantic with his wife Nancy that he often made me, and the rest of the staff on the men's national team, look like bums to our wives.
He loved his wife like no other, and his kids the same. He was so proud of Kelly's career in ballet, and equally proud of how Travis had developed into such an impressive young man. Needless to say, he was a great father and husband.
|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 won the 1976 Hermann Trophy, and he later played eight seasons in the NASL.
On Oct. 9, 2006, Myernick died at the age of 51 after failing to regain consciousness after a heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, their son, Travis, and daughter, Kelly.
ESPNsoccernet published a five-part tribute by Jimmy Conrad and friends to the Glenn Myernick.
He always believed it was important to exercise your mind and body everyday. He did that religiously all his life. His day would start with a crossword puzzle when he woke up at 5 a.m. every morning, followed by a physical workout that usually consisted of a long and fast run -- despite the doctor's orders that he should cross train more because of a troubled knee. He would sustain the same energy level until it was time to go to bed and lived life to the fullest. He accomplished in 51 short years what most people couldn't dream to do in a lifetime.
I sit here writing this still shaking my head trying to make sense of it all. It is just so tragic. He has touched the lives of so many of us, and now it is our time to carry on his passion and vigor for the great game of soccer and life. His passing has re-emphasized to me how important it is to live life to the fullest and to do everything at 100 percent. He was a man that always went after his dreams and I believe that is what he would want us all to do.
BRUCE SNELL, athletic trainer, U.S. national team:
Mooch always listened when this "lowly" trainer needed to talk. I always felt respected by him and valued as a member of the team. He and I spent a lot of time over the last two World Cups talking about family.
During difficult times that I might have been having raising a family, he always would offer to help. He in fact contacted my son a few years ago when my son was having some trouble in school. He had a way of making things all right, and my son certainly appreciated his genuine concern. His family is very fortunate to have had Glenn in their lives for which, at this time, seems to be too short.
My prayers go out to Nancy and the kids. I hope that your grief will pass and the memories will last.
GEORGE BILLAUER, chiropractor, U.S. men's national team:
I had the honor and pleasure of getting to know and work with Mooch for the past eight years. What always impressed me most was his passion for life. I recall the times we were in the Northeast and he would make the time to visit with his mom. No matter where we were he would make the time to speak with his wife and kids regularly over the phone. While on the road, he always would invite me to go out to dinner with the coaches or ride with them to practice. He would never hesitate to share his opinion on things and always took the time to hear yours.
KERRY ZAVAGNIN, midfielder, K.C. Wizards and U.S. national team:
I first met Mooch while playing with the U-20 national team in 1992. He was the assistant coach to Bobby Howe and I was immediately impressed with his professionalism. I did, however, dread his warm-ups. Due to his superior fitness, these moments usually turned into players bent over gasping for air while Mooch barely broke a sweat. I guess I have many memories of Mooch over the years, but there is one story that I'd like to share that occurred within the past year.
The national team had just begun a training camp in preparation for an upcoming game. I had heard, earlier in the day, that someone had gotten hurt in my position and when I saw Mooch's number appear on my caller ID, I figured he was calling to check on my fitness and invite me into camp. The conversation went something like this,
Mooch: Kerry, Glenn Myernick here. How's everything going?
Me: Hey Mooch! Everything is great here. I've had a little tightness in my hamstring, but, other than that, I feel good. I'm ready to go!
(I was waiting eagerly for Mooch to extend the invitation to come into camp)
Mooch: Glad to hear everything is going well. Listen, as you know my daughter Kelly is traveling with the Houston Ballet. She is coming to Kansas City this week to perform and I was thinking that you should go out and support the arts. If you have a chance, bring a few of your friends along. I have seen the show and it is truly first class.
(I was thinking that I would love to go, but what about the invitation to camp. Isn't that what he was calling for?)
Me: Uhhh ... hmm ... well, yeah, that sounds great, Mooch. I will do my best to get out there, thanks!
Mooch: Very good. Well, keep going and good luck to you the rest of the way. We will be in touch!
Me: OK. By the way, good luck in the game next week.
(The game I now realized that I wasn't going to be a part of!)
I am going to miss Mooch dearly. He was always a good person and treated all of us with respect.
JIMMY CONRAD, defender, K.C. Wizards and U.S. national team:
A week had passed since our game against Germany on March 23 in Dortmund (a 4-1 shellacking) and outside of the media pundits' opinions and phone calls from supportive family and friends, I still hadn't heard any fallout about what the true decision makers -- the coaches-- had to say about the result and, in particular, my performance. The game was as a close to a World Cup setting as the national team could get before the announcement of the World Cup roster in early May and every player (on the bubble) knew what was at stake.
My cell phone vibrates and the caller ID shows that Mooch is on the other line. So with sweaty palms, I open it up, press talk, and say,
"Hey Mooch. What's shaking?"
"Not much, Jim," he crisply responds. "How are you doing?"
I can sense the seriousness in his voice and I know he wants to tell me something. Something I'm sure that has been eating at him for a while.
"Well…" I start before Mooch jumps in and says,
"You know Jim, one good game doesn't make a player good and one bad game doesn't make a player bad."
"O-O.K.," I stutter,not knowing exactly where I fall in this spectrum of extremes.
"I just thought I would let you know that."
"Thanks," I offer ,still not knowing how to decipher the Moochspeak.
"But be honest with me, what were you thinking on that one play that led to a goal being scored?"
I knew it was coming!
I explain my thought process about the play and why I made my decision the way I did and after a pause, Mooch says,
"I want to let you know that Bruce and I have a lot of confidence in you and how you can help us as a team. So stay healthy and we'll talk soon."
With my jaw in my lap, I half-whispered "Thanks," hung up the phone, and smiled. Best. Phone. Call. Ever.
So thank you Mooch. Thank you for being honest, passionate, saying "what a good ball, Carlos" as much as you did, helping me after training with some drill you just thought up, making Pierre roll his eyes when you stole his warm-up, being the answer key for any crossword puzzle, and finally, believing in me as much I believed in you.
You will be missed.
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.