Brandon Daley ready to lead LHS boys soccer after spending 8 seasons as JV coach
photo by: Justine Hamilton
After eight years at the junior varsity level, Brandon Daley will finally get his shot to lead a varsity boys soccer program.
Daley was named the new Lawrence High boys soccer coach last Thursday, which was announced via Twitter by LHS Athletic Director Nick Wood. Pending approval from the school board, Daley will take over the varsity program after spending the previous eight seasons guiding the junior varsity team.
“I’m still kind of having to second guess myself that it really is true because I have been looking forward to this,” Daley said. “This has kind of felt like maybe a couple years in the making of a fairytale ending now that I get this chance.”
To better understand why it means so much to Daley, it is important to go back to the start of his story.
Daley grew in Wichita and played soccer for Campus High School. They didn’t win many games, but that is where Daley started to get into the strategy of the sport. He ended up playing one year at Coffeyville Community College before eventually going to the University of Kansas to finish up his degree.
Daley’s love for soccer never went away, so he reached out to both local soccer programs in Lawrence in 2013 after he landed a job as a fifth grade teacher at Woodlawn Elementary. The Lions actually had an opening on their junior varsity staff, so Mike Murphy agreed to bring Daley on board.
“Things just worked out,” Daley said. “Fate worked itself out there, so that was kind of cool, and I just got really lucky that he just happened to need that position, and that it was an ideal position.”
Daley went to work immediately for the Lions after that. He said that Murphy provided plenty of insight over the years to help him grow as a coach. Daley also admitted that Murphy gave him the freedom to do what he wanted at the junior varsity level, which gave him a taste of how to run a program.
There were obviously growing pains along the way for Daley, but the highlight of his JV coaching career took place in 2019. Many of the seniors who were on the 2020 team this past fall were on that junior varsity squad.
During that season, the Lions went 13-1-1 at the junior varsity level and were firing on all cylinders. Lawrence unofficially won the Sunflower League title, which isn’t really a thing at the JV level, when it defeated a previously unbeaten Olathe West team in the final game of that season.
“We played really well that season,” Daley said. “I think that was one of the most proud moments for the boys that I had.”
Following that season, Daley knew that it was a possibility that he could take over the varsity program. Murphy was planning on retiring after the 2020 season, with his son, Alec Murphy, graduating this spring.
Because of that, Murphy let Daley have more control over drills and practices involving the underclassmen this past summer. It was to help set Daley up for future success, making the potential transition as seamless as possible.
Still, Daley knew that the head coach position wasn’t guaranteed. He had his application ready to go, and sent it in back in January. He then went through the interview process with the administrative staff at LHS, discussing what he could provide as the leader of the program.
“I wasn’t sure how many other people had interviewed for it,” Daley said. “I prepared like I was going up against (Sporting KC coach) Peter Vermes going for the position there at Lawrence High. I was going to be ready to do anything I could to make this dream come true.”
Daley plans to meet with the players at some point this spring, but he won’t really get started until the summer. The Lions will then have a couple months to prepare for the 2021 season in the fall.
While winning is obviously the goal, Daley’s main focus is to help LHS boys soccer take that next step after back-to-back trips to the regional championship.
“We want to think bigger than just wins and losses on the scoreboard there,” Daley said. “We want to be one of the best sports teams at Lawrence High, which is a big ask when we’re thinking about what coach (Steve) Rampy just had with the football team and coach (Clint) Bowen coming in. Or what coach (Mike) Lewis is doing over there. The track team has been successful and volleyball just won state a couple years ago.”
“To me, can we move into that upper echelon of sports teams at Lawrence High that everyone is just buzzing about,” Daley added.