MARION — Mount Vernon doesn’t usually play Linn-Mar in boys’ soccer.
There are a couple reasons for that, of course. The Mustangs are 2A, the Lions are 3A. Scheduling non-conference games is never easy and Mount Vernon gets “one or two a year,” head coach Kevin Murray estimated.
But this year, the Mustangs rolled up to the Linn-Mar Invitational, a six-team tournament, and played their first game against the Lions. It was also Murray’s first game against longtime Linn-Mar head coach Corey Brinkmeyer.
The first against a man whose class he used to sit in.
“Oh boy,” Murray said with a slight laugh. “I did some teaching under him. So when I was the student, he was the teacher.”
Murray, as it turns out, is actually a little older than Brinkmeyer. A non-traditional student, he wanted to get his teaching certificate and teach business classes.
So, he went back to Coe, where he graduated in 1995 with a degree in business administration and pursued this new avenue. He then got a chance to teach at Linn-Mar under Brinkmeyer, also a business teacher, and things blossomed from there.
He finished up his second round of school in 2011. After spending a year teaching at Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Murray landed a job at Mount Vernon. As it turned out, the Mustangs needed a new boys’ soccer coach.
Murray had spent years coaching his children and, well, as he puts it, “they needed a coach.”
So, in 2013, he took over the program. Murray stayed in contact with Brinkmeyer and convinced him to let Mount Vernon in this year’s tournament.
The very first game of the competition? Mount Vernon vs. Linn-Mar, of course. Teacher against pupil, albeit in a slightly difference sense.
“He was someone I knew in the coaching world so I relied on him for some questions,” Murray said. “That type of relationship is pretty good in any realm. Business, coaching, anything like that.”
Brinkmeyer certainly is an excellent resource to have. He won a state title in 2015 and has been at the helm of the Linn-Mar program for 17 years.
Both coaches brought their teams to state last season, lost a good deal off those squads and probably will have growing pains this year. It is the nature of sports, but on a beautiful Saturday morning, neither coach seemed completely unhappy with what they saw on the field.
The Mustangs lost 2-0 to the previously winless Lions, but simply having a chance to get two extra games (Mount Vernon also played Muscatine) is a huge benefit to the program.
“Even though we have a number of upperclassmen, we’re a bit inexperienced,” Brinkmeyer said. “A little bit of a rocky start, but we’ve gotten better each game, each day.”
But if there’s one thing that a person absolutely must have when it comes to soccer, and, perhaps, life, it’s patience.
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Sometimes dreams and ambitions take time to develop, to build. It did, after all, take Brinkmeyer a number of years to win a state title.
Just as it took Murray a bit of time to find his true calling.
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