Coach Duke has a long history with youth soccer, not only from coaching his children, but also from his personal experience as a long-time youth club player. He was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and began his soccer career at age 5 for an independent club team called the Olympia Hawks. He continued playing for the Hawks up through his high school years, helping them become one of the most successful club teams in Nebraska soccer history.
In high school, Duke played soccer for powerhouse Omaha Creighton Prep, helping his team to multiple state championships. He was selected 1st Team All-State as a defender his senior year. After high school, Duke came to Kansas City to attend Rockhurst College (now University), choosing to take a break from soccer and concentrate more on his studies. However, after two years away from the game, he was persuaded to try out for the school's national-level soccer team. He made the team and briefly played before a stress-fracture in his foot promptly ended his season. After graduating from Rockhurst, Duke played soccer only a handful of times, moving on from the game he played all his life.
Once Duke's kids came along, soccer returned to his life. In the fall of 2006, at his wife's urging, he began coaching his son Austin in Red Star Soccer's Juniors Program. Soon afterwards, he began coaching his daughter Maya as well.
In the fall of 2008, he formed a U6 girls team at Red Star called the Robins, leading them to a 7-1 record in the KC Metro League. In the spring of 2009, the Robins had another successful season, finishing 7-0-1.
It was during the summer of 2009 that both Coach Duke and his son’s soccer coach left Red Star to develop a new soccer club in the Liberty area. Coach Duke’s "Robins" became the "Hawks", and over the next few seasons, he added three more successful girls teams to his charge (Falcons, Eagles, and Ravens).
In March of 2011, Coach Duke and his wife Amy made the difficult decision to leave the club that they had helped build from the ground up. However, his commitment to his players and his soccer parents has never wavered, and he looks forward to continuing the growth of his young soccer players with Freebird Soccer.
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