Minnesota United player Kallman coaching alongside friend, fellow parishioner

| October 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

Brent Kallman, center, who plays professional soccer for the Minnesota United FC and is a varsity assistant coach for the Hill-Murray boys soccer team, gives a pre-game handshake to junior defender Adam Bennett, left, before the Pioneers’ game Oct. 5 against Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Hill-Murray School boys soccer Head Coach Jeff Zupfer turned to the big leagues to fill an open assistant coaching spot this year.

Zupfer brought Minnesota United FC soccer player Brent Kallman, 27, on board this spring to help the Pioneers’ soccer program at the Maplewood Catholic high school. Kallman, who plays center back for Minnesota’s new Major League Soccer team, was glad to help his longtime family friend.

“He sold me on it right away,” Kallman said. “He talked about really trying to build a culture there, and that’s something I really want to be a part of — a healthy, winning culture.”

Both parishioners of St. Ambrose of Woodbury in Woodbury, Zupfer and Kallman share a relationship that goes back more than a decade. Zupfer coached all three of Kallman’s sisters in club soccer. Kallman’s mother, Laura, currently nannies Zupfer’s son.

“I’ve known Brent since he was probably 10, 11 years old,” said Zupfer, who took the head job at Hill-Murray in 2016 and guided the Pioneers to an 8-10-1 record. The team allowed 2.1 goals per game.

Kallman’s defensive expertise has helped the Pioneers (6-9-1) improve on the back line, as the team has allowed 1.5 goals per game this season. He gives them tips from his MLS playing experience.

“He’s always coming up with good insight and always willing to help players out,” said senior midfielder Troy Tischler.

Brent Kallman, second from right, joins in prayer before Hill-Murray’s game against Simley. At right is Hill-Murray Head Coach Jeff Zupfer. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Senior Andrew Moon, who plays center back like Kallman, said Kallman’s guidance has helped him improve, particularly with positioning. Moon also said Kallman’s approach makes a difference.

“Instead of yelling at you from the field, he would take you off [the field], talk to you and put you back on,” Moon said.

Players and Zupfer alike noted Kallman’s example as a leader in the program. That includes small things such as joining the team to pray a Hail Mary before the game, a tradition for all Pioneers athletic teams.

“He jumps into that,” Zupfer said.

In deciding to join Zupfer at Hill-Murray, the school’s Catholic identity played a role for Kallman.

“That was one of the things Jeff sold me on,” Kallman said. “I come from a Catholic family, too. Some of the values that we try to implement as a program, that we’ve done a good job of, they’re similar values to what I was raised with.”

Kallman has been assisting the Pioneers during the biggest stretch of the Minnesota United’s season, which runs through October. As a Woodbury native, he said membership in Minnesota’s first MLS club has a special feel.

He has been playing for the club since 2013, when it played in the North American Soccer League before joining MLS this year. He considers the first home MLS win against Real Salt Lake to be one of his best memories from the season.

“That was a really cool moment for everybody involved — the players and coaches, front office and fans,” Kallman said. “It’s kind of an indication of everything we’ve done here over the years and a good sign that we’re going to have some success going forward.”

Before the pros, Kallman played NCAA Division I collegiate soccer at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, after a strong prep career at Woodbury High School.


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