Gene Harkins retires as head girls varsity soccer coach

Chris Kelly takes over

June 13, 2017

Ten district championships, countless unforgettable memories and nearly two decades later, Gene Harkins, the head coach of the girls varsity soccer team and former coach for the boys varsity soccer team, has retired from the program.

Although the past couple years have not been the most successful for the team, Harkins has has a very successful coaching career overall.

“We made it to the state semi-finals with the girls two years, and we’ve made it with the boys one time. I can remember a number of really good players, all-state players and a number of girls went on to play in college,” Harkins said. “I had a really good experience with the girls, I thought they played hard for me, and we were mostly very successful. Just a lot of good memories with the kids for sure.”

According to his co-coach, players and parents, Harkins is the kind of coach that is truly involved with the team, and has stayed dedicated to the program through thick and thin.

“I have had him for two years and he’s been really fun to have. While the last two seasons have not been the most successful, he has never given up on us and always tried to work toward the future,” South student and girls varsity soccer captain Emma Foy ’17 said.


Photo by Chase Clark ’18

Throughout his lengthy career as head coach, Harkins has influenced many players along the way, and has been a supportive role model.

“He’s made me a better player for sure. He always pushed me harder and knew my potential, and if I wasn’t playing to that standard, he would critique me and send me back out there,” Foy said.

Along with the twenty years spent coaching at south, Harkins has been coaching soccer for a total of 38 years, and was an early influence in the early parts of the soccer program in the Detroit area.

“He’s one of the starters,” Chris Kelly, former assistant coach and new head coach for the girls varsity soccer team said. “He did a lot to start soccer in the Detroit area.”

Kelly, a soccer player and coach, has known Harkins for the majority of his life, and has been working with him since he was a teenager.

“I’ve known Gene since I was a kid, since I was twelve, and I’ve been working with him since I was eighteen as a manager at Total Soccer with him, but I just started coaching with him last year,” Kelly said.

Kelly will take over the position of head coach for the team next year, and feels he is fully prepared to take on the challenge.

“I’ll be prepared, especially after this past year, just having a year of experience and development with the girls, knowing how everything works, knowing the administration and knowing now what he did and what I’ll do differently and change the program so hopefully we’ll have a little more success in the future.”

Harkins has been preparing Kelly for the job for the past couple of years, and shares Kelly’s confidence in his preparation.

“Definitely he’s prepared. He’s a very good player, he’s done a lot of coaching in club and yeah he’s ready for it,” Harkins said.

Harkins had been planning to retire for a couple of years now, and says his time coaching has been a great experience overall.

“It’s been a great experience coaching at South, I’ve had a really good time that’s what I did it for, for hopefully to teach the girls and the guys and I got more out of it than they did I believe. I just thought it was a great experience, and I’ll always be a South man.” Harkins said.

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