Gerard Barbero

Boys Director of Coaching at Sporting Springfield

Gerard Barbero
Photo by Katy St. ClairGerard Barbero is Boys Director of Coaching at Sporting Springfield. Purchase Photo

Gerard Barbero began his soccer career before he could lace up his cleats.

More than 30 years ago in Georgia, Barbero began playing soccer at age 3. At 18, he scored a scholarship and played for Missouri State University’s soccer team. After college, his career as a player was over, but his career as a coach was taking off.

“I got my start coaching at Springfield Soccer Club, which is now Sporting Springfield,” he says. “I went and coached in Birmingham, Alabama, and came back because I love this city and I love working for this club, and there’s so much potential for soccer to grow here. Twenty years ago, soccer was barely available in our local high schools. Now, we’re a part of soccer’s exploding growth across the country.”

As boys director of coaching, Barbero oversees coaches and teams for players ages 9 to 19 at Sporting Springfield. Last summer, his team of 17-year-olds, the 2006 Atletico Madrid, won the national championship for their age division in Denver, Colorado.

But for Barbero, he’s thinking beyond the scoreboard when it comes to soccer. A competitive soccer market brings more tournaments, more traveling teams and ultimately, more dollars to the local economy, and Sporting’s success as a club helps push forward more and better athletic facilities in the Ozarks. But developing players into champions of their own success with a growth mindset is Barbero’s persistent goal, he says.

“We’re working with the next managers, the next owners, the next entrepreneurs, and we’re helping to develop them as leaders,” he says. “When young people go into job interviews and they’ve played a sport competitively, they have an advantage because they’ve already been successful in a team environment. Our workforce benefits from strong athletics for children locally.”

Brianna Reitzner is the mother of two Sporting Springfield players. Barbero’s innovative and supportive coaching style allows each player to shine, she says.

“Coach is teaching players the importance of perseverance and grit, as well as how to be a part of a community, working together, to build each other up,” she says. “These are the future leaders of our community, and it’s all starting with the values being instilled on the pitch.”

Nailed It, Failed It with Gerard Barbero

“As coaches, we’re a part of that stage in life where parents are so influential in their players’ lives. We played in a game with 9-year-olds on a team, and the parents were a little over-excited, and we had a halftime talk on the sidelines with everybody—players, parents, coaches. We all had to understand what direction we wanted to go and ensure our players heard a positive message from parents and their coaches. After that short conversation, you could see the massive difference in both the players and the parents. There was more at stake than a soccer game at that moment.” #NailedIt

“I can be a fiery individual, especially when I first started coaching. We were about to potentially advance to a championship game, and I didn’t like a call, and I ended up getting kicked out of a game when I was 24. To sit there and not be able to help kids in a challenging moment because I was selfish, that had a huge impact on me. I never wanted that to happen again. Leading by example became a priority that day, and I’m still working toward it.” #FailedIt

For the Record

Favorite podcast
“Any podcast about soccer.”

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Professional soccer player.

Your hometown
Marietta, Georgia.

Your coffee order

Favorite way to unwind in the Ozarks?
Silver Dollar City with his wife, Kelly and their three daughters: MacKenly, Kacelynn and Sutton.

Meaningful mentors
Eric Sorlie, executive director of Sporting Springfield, and Jerry Barbero.

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