Two Del Mar Sharks Players Coached by Felicia Kappes Are Drafted in NWSL
Diane Scavuzzo of SoccerToday interviewed Del Mar Sharks head coach Felicia Kappes following the 2019 NWSL College Draft in Chicago.
Hailey Harbison selected 9th by NC Courage, and Samantha Staab, selected 4th by Washington Spirit both played for Felicia Knappes at the Del Mar Sharks in San Diego.
What was it like to nurture these talented players Staab and Harbison and what where they like when they were young?
NWSL Soccer News: The 2019 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft was a moment of celebration for the Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks. Two former players of the San Diego club, Hailey Harbison and Samantha Staab were selected in the first round of the College Draft, showcasing the prestige player development practices by the players’ head coach Felicia Kappes.
Former Cal South Coach of the Year, Kappes coached this very special San Diego DMCV Sharks Elite Girls 96/97 team which won back-to-back US Youth Soccer National Championships and finished as the finalist in their last of their three-year national championship run.
Kappes’ Southern California team also won numerous Cal South National Cup titles as well as other championships.
The stellar team of players went on to earn coveted positions at top colleges around the country and this year, two of those players became professionals when they heard their names called at the NWSL Draft.
Diane Scavuzzo interviewed Kappes on the achievement by both players, with her recalling the youth careers of Hailey Harbison, selected 9th, and Samantha Staab selected 4th in the draft.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can you comment on your youth players who were drafted today in the NWSL 2019 College Draft? Starting with Hailey Harbison?
Felicia Kappes: Hailey was one of my very special players.
Hailey demonstrated exceptional talent and potential from a very early age.
Coaches always singled her out after games and acknowledged her explosive speed and skill on the ball. Hailey had a competitive edge and drive that is hard to describe. She also overcame a lot of adversity and soccer proved to be a perfect outlet for her. For a coach, she possessed all the qualities and characteristics you desire in a player to develop.
Ironically, it was Hailey’s parents that played an instrumental role in my decision to get back into Club coaching at the older age level. Her father was my brother’s best friend and both played competitive soccer for Derek Armstrong at the Nomads. I was a little 12-year-old who idolized my brother and his soccer team.
Through her father, I met Hailey’s mother who became a very close friend of mine. They urged me to take over this very talented but troubled team. Some coaching and club problems were about to destroy the team. It was a complete mess at the time but they gave me a shot and well … the rest is history.
Diane Scavuzzo: What were you doing before?
Felicia Kappes: I had been coaching college soccer, first at UMASS Amherst and then at SDSU for 6 years.
I took a break from college coaching to start a family. It was time to go back to coaching but I focused on club soccer since Division 1 college coaching wasn’t going to work for me anymore with a family.
Development was always going to be the priority.
Truly felt I came from a different perspective from most club coaches. I also felt passionate about preparing them for the collegiate level, always thought that was missing from a lot of clubs. One of my main goals was to develop these players and establish a solid foundation for them to rely on.
Honestly, Hailey and Sam were exceptional players on an exceptional team. These players demanded a lot from themselves and each other. I feel to this day those players help create the ultimate environment to develop.
Diane Scavuzzo: What’s her best trait on the field?
Felicia Kappes: Hailey has incredible athleticism … fast, technical, crafty and a very high soccer IQ. All incredible qualities to have as she faces the new challenges of being a professional soccer player.
Hailey’s best trait may be that she is extremely diverse.
She can play several positions very well. What a gift that is to any coaching staff. Her coach may be able to utilize this to his advantage as he makes tactical changes, adjusts to the unexpected injury or replaces players who may be playing in the World Cup this year.
Diane Scavuzzo: What can you tell us about Sam Staab?
Felicia Kappes: First off, Sam is probably one of the greatest success stories from that team. I recruited her and her talented GK teammate Sydney from Scripps Ranch. No disrespect to that team but they simply were not playing at the level we were playing at. She was raw but her potential was scary to comprehend.
Sam possessed all the physical qualities … size, very good speed, lethal left foot with a right foot that was very close behind it, superb in the air. She was missing the nuances of the game because she simply had not played at a high enough level or with other players as strong as her or better.
However, Sam possessed the special intangibles …. simple love for the game, extreme calmness in highly stressful competitions and it became clear she was a natural born leader. She came to our team and blossomed in our competitive environment.
Sam was one of those players who just got better and better.
Sam also, like Hailey, demonstrated a very high soccer intelligence as well. This helped to accelerate her development and she simply passed high profile players from other clubs. She continued this trajectory in college at Clemson. Goal oriented, driven and committed in every way on and off the field to succeed.
Truly believe the best is yet to come for both Hailey and Sam.
Diane Scavuzzo: Sam has said she knew she wanted to be a professional soccer player all the way back in 5th grade.
Felicia Kappes: Her growth as a player was scary. When she committed to Clemson for sophomore year, she wasn’t the type of player she was during her senior year.
The joy of her is how gifted and how much she loves this game.
She plays it so relaxed and calm that she shocks everyone. She is naturally gifted.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you love most about coaching?
Felicia Kappes: I have to be honest, I absolutely love being here as their former coach to celebrate this incredible achievement.
I don’t have enough words to describe how proud I am of both of them.
I feel they represented the best of that very special and talented team. All those Sharkies can share in their success because they were an integral part of developing these two players as they reached for dreams. We are and forever a family.
However, to answer your question, what I have always loved and cherished the most about coaching is the incredible life lessons that I can pass on to young players through this incredible sport.
Soccer played a huge role in my life and I feel it is my responsibility to pay if forward.
I take pride in trying to be the best coach, mentor, and teacher to anyone I have the privilege to coach.