Team manager Efrem Egede runs around in the sheets of rain as they fall on a 62 degree morning, pushing goals to the touchlines by himself. His bright smile and energy contrast with his grey shirt, now soaked black and his black shorts drip water onto the pitch.
Egede shows up to every practice, every game and helps first-year head coach James Armstrong run practice. In the past three years, Egede has been the only consistency for a program that has encountered three coaching changes. Armstrong said Egede is everyone’s best friend from the coaching staff to the players.
“He is so passionate, he cares about the game so much,” Armstrong said. “He cares about the players so much. He is also someone we can make fun of every now and again.”
Just five hours from his hometown of Atlanta, Egede said his transition from the busy city life to a slow-paced rural community like Starkville was different.
“It is a much more tight-knit family group here,” Egede said.
The passion for the game of soccer started when Egede was just four years old, and from that point, it has been a journey. He played for Mississippi State University’s Club Soccer Team and applied for a position to become a team manager.
Since Egede became manager, his journey has seen game-winners and spending time in the press box with Sports Information Director Brian Ogden. For Egede, every day is the chance to work with his passion.
“Coming to work, it isn’t even work to me. This is just me coming to do what I enjoy most,” Egede said. “Every day is just a blessed day honestly.”
The next step in the journey for Egede is unknown as he will graduate this year with a degree in petroleum engineering. Egede said he has applied to jobs and could find himself in either Texas, Louisiana, California or Colorado.
Once he graduates, his love for soccer will not end. Once he gets a job in his field of study as Egede said, the plan is to get a coaching license wherever he ends up, so he can be a volunteer coach. If he could coach any team, Egede said, he would coach Real Madrid or Nigeria.
Currently, he coaches his own team of sorts, as he has a fantasy team in the English Premier League. That has not gone quite to plan for Egede, but he has relished the challenge to make a winning premier league side.
“It is a week by week grind, my team is not the best right now. We are struggling,” Egede said. “If it is NFL Fantasy Football, I’m probably the best. I think it is just a different ball game. My team is the best team on paper, they are just not performing yet.”
Armstrong and the team take great enjoyment in Egede’s struggles in his fantasy premier league. Egede’s ability to laugh off misfortunes came into play when he has to occasionally shag balls for away games.
That work hasn’t always been pain-free for Egede as this season he suffered an injury in practice. Makayla Waldner, a senior forward from Dexter, Missouri, was the player who inflicted the injury.
“One time it was caught in the goal and wasn’t ready for it (the shot),” Waldner said. “I felt so bad, he tried to block it but his hand wasn’t locked out. He came around with a limp wrist for about two weeks. Broken wrist and all, he will do whatever it takes.”
It was all smiles from Egede as he told his side of the broken wrist story. He said it was his best moment in the time spent with the team.
“She drove the ball, she has a rocket of a right foot,” Egede said.
Egede plays a vital role on the team beyond helping out with practice. Waldner said that Egede is not only everyone’s best friend but also their biggest fan.
Every time Waldner scores a goal, the two share a celebration where they will salute each other. Waldner also said Egede will support her no matter what.
“If you are down he picks you up, if you are having a great game he encourages you,” Waldner said. “He is always a very consistent person and a genuine person. Hail State Soccer is incredibly lucky to have someone like Efrem on our team.”