Tuesday, July 27, 2021

An all-around coach, a very humble Marissa Mykines spends the day helping athletes improve their physical strength as a trainer and then turns soccer coach in the evenings and weekends.

Her dedication to improving players on and off the pitch probably stems from a competitive spirit that led to what is arguably one of the most successful collegiate careers from a much-celebrated Spokane area player… even if when asked about memorable moments from her playing career she claims “I have no idea – that was so long ago!”

“I always had a blast playing club with Shadow and travelling with my best friends, but I can’t really think of any specific moment. Maybe winning our first state cup that was a highlight.”

Note: her ‘first’ state cup. She helped lead her side to two consecutive state cup titles after having reached the final the previous two. Oh, and she won GSL district titles twice with Mead while earning GSL Offensive MVP, GSL First Team and State First Team honors. All while balancing time with various US National Team pool, ODP and Super Y-League national and regional selections and camps. 

That success carried on with her to the Midwest with Illinois, where she played in 22 games as a freshman and finished her career as the driving force behind the program’s stunning Big Ten Championship run in 2011, earning the Tournament Offensive MVP award. The run started with a pair of goals at the close of the season that secured the second seed for the postseason and then carried into the semifinals with the overtime game-winner – a goal she tallied after beating three Michigan State defenders. Two nights later she set up an unprecedented early goal against 11th ranked Penn State en route to a 2-1 tournament championship win.

“I like to attack all the time and run at the defense,” she said of her approach to the game at the time. “I love going one-vs-one because it is always a challenge, and with that, I try to make other players around me dangerous as well. I use my speed and quickness, not my size, as an advantage.” – Blast from the Past (check out this old UI feature online)

Though she went to a school that is considered one of the big powerhouse schools, it was the intimacy of the city of Champaign and the program that lured her to Illinois.

“I visited a lot of different colleges trying to get a feel for lots of different areas and schools. I liked Illinois’ small town university vibe and could appreciate the idea that the coach was most likely going to be there for my entire career. No guarantee but I felt it would be a good fit overall for me.”

And though she went to the midwest, her home still played a key role, ironically, in her career. Her first collegiate goal came against Washington State and she kicked off her stellar senior season (eight goals, three assists) with a goal and two assists against Gonzaga.

“Her impact grew with her confidence throughout her career and you saw that culminate in a senior year where her contribution was significant to our team success,” said Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield after the season.

After such a big finish Mykines continued her career as a professional and back home in North America’s elite amateur ranks. She played professionally in Sweden and briefly with Seattle Reign in the 2013 preseason tour in Japan as well as with Vancouver Whitecaps and Bay Area Breeze, where she was named Offensive MVP, prior to returning to her hometown.

“It was a great opportunity for me to travel which has always been a goal of mine, and I got to extend my soccer career for a couple more years which was a big bonus for me.”

No longer chasing championships on the field and attacking defenders with the ball at her feet Mykines now focuses on the next generation.

“I love being back around the game. I have always been passionate about soccer so it’s enjoyable to get to share that with younger players.”

And when she is not installing that passion around the soccer pitch, as a trainer she is giving them the physical strength to also find success.

“Strength type training can play a huge role for developing players not just to gain strength and speed, but to help recover and to be more durable throughout the season.”

Given her career experience, that’s probably advice well worth following.


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