How Derek Missimo’s Youth Football Club Fueled the Wealth of Talent, Forty Acres Connections – The Daily Texan

Sophomore midfielder Lexi Missimo has a quick answer for who she thinks is the best football coach – her dad.

“He’s one of the greatest coaches of all time,” Lexi said.

Rarely can such an assertive statement be made about a youth football coach, but Derek Missimo may only have one affair.

Derek started coaching Lexi and her sister Gabriella, a former Texas football player, when Lexi was just three years old. Over the course of Derek’s 14-year coaching career, he has produced 88 scholarship athletes, including 36 First Division athletes and 19 United States Youth National Team players.

Derek began his senior football career as the North Carolina Tar Heel, where he was a standout player from 1987 to 1990. Derek is North Carolina’s all-time leading male scorer, scoring 56 total goals in four years.

“I was the all-time top scorer and my counterpart on the women’s team (was) Mia Hamm,” Derek said. “This is a really cool company.”

Derek has also played for the US under-17 and under-19 teams and has received offers to play in Europe for teams such as Sheffield Wednesday in England.

After his playing days, Derek began his coaching career. He is a former women’s youth soccer coach for Solar Soccer Club in Dallas, one of the most recruited youth soccer clubs in the United States.

No coach has benefited more from Derek’s teachings than Texas coach Angela Kelly. Eleven of the 29 players in the Texas squad passed through the Dallas club before coming to Austin.

“I think it’s the number one (recruiting) focus (in the country),” Kelly said. “That’s why it’s so exciting to be at that state school.”

Among those players are his daughter Lexi and sophomore Trinity Byars, two players on the Big 12’s first team last year and one of the best teammate duos in college football. Derek is perhaps the man who can take credit for Texas landing the dynamic duo.

“He found (Byars) and saw potential in her,” Lexi said. “Our chemistry came with time, but he taught her all the mechanics of being (striker). Without him, I don’t think we would be the players we are today.”

Since Byars’ introduction to Solar Soccer Club, she and the Missimo family have become one. Derek refers to her as his “football daughter,” and Byars feels exactly the same way.

“He was always by my side,” Byars said. “I literally see him as a father.”

The two-star Solar products spent their entire high school career as the two best players in the country – Solar Soccer Club went 33-0 while they were there – but Kelly put them up to play for the Longhorns in seventh grade.

“We were on a call with (Kelly) and she said, ‘Do you want to be a Longhorn?’” Lexi said. “We both said yes at the exact same time.”

Derek remained humble about his skill as a trainer, but his daughter and Byars had high praise for him.

“He’s the person who taught us all our ways at our young age,” Lexi said. “As for the mental side, he taught us everything he knew, which he really did a great job of. He made us feel unstoppable.”

Derek spent much of his adult life coaching football, but none of that was for men’s teams. Derek didn’t have a specific reason for his lack of coaches, but he shared an anecdote he learned from being around so many great youth football players.

“Boys always ask why; girls always ask how,” Missimo said. “They think of bigger things than (guys) at 14, 15, 16. They planned. They were always planners.”

Derek retired from football coaching in 2020 as Lexi began her college career. Over the course of his career, Derek hasn’t made a dime and has devoted as much time as a football coach as he has in his actual job as a restaurant managing partner. He still spends a lot of time in Austin, visiting his daughters and watching Lexi – alongside the rest of the Solar Club’s young players – play for the Longhorns.

“Playing at this level is a privilege,” Derek said. “Playing at the University of Texas is a privilege. Playing with these kids and this team is a privilege. I know Lexi highly values ​​this privilege.”

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