Home-grown Gee will coach Mania Oakland Mills graduate signs with A-League team

April 29, 1998|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

Darryl Gee, the first of several professional players produced by Columbia's youth soccer system, has signed a two-year contract to coach the new Maryland Mania, which will begin play next spring in U.S. soccer's top minor league, the 28-team A-League.

The job for the Columbia-based team will be Gee's first coaching position in professional soccer. But his livelihood since his playing years ended in 1991 has come from coaching youth players and teaching their adult leaders in Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Gee has an "A" coaching license, the top certification attainable from the U.S. Soccer Federation.

"He's a real student of the game," said A. J. Ali, president of the Mania. Gee, 36, gives the team a coach well-known in many of the communities from which it is likely to draw fans.

From offices in Rockville, Gee's Sports Network Enterprises operates after-school programs at 110 Montgomery County schools, as well as soccer camps. He is coaching director for youth programs with more than 6,000 players in Sterling and Loudon County, Va.

Gee's soccer resume blossomed while he was still in high school in Columbia. At 17, already playing on U.S. national youth teams, he was added to the 1980 Olympic team for a qualifier against Surinam; as a late substitute, he scored the winning goal. Later that year, President Carter ordered a U.S. boycott of the Games.

The same year, Gee was drafted by the old North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos upon graduating from Oakland Mills High School. He eventually became a defender for the NASL's most successful team, for which he played until a serious injury coincided with the league's 1985 demise.

After he tried indoor soccer, which he disliked, his playing career ended back home -- on the same Columbia field on which he will be coaching the Mania -- as a Maryland Bays player in 1990 and 1991. The 1990 Bays won a national championship for what had become the country's top pro league.

Gee was the Mania's second choice as coach. Earlier this year, the team distributed brochures naming ex-English Premier League standout Justin Fashanu to the job. But the deal with Fashanu, who also played in California and Atlanta, "just didn't work out," Ali said, not elaborating.

Pub Date: 4/29/98

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