Carrie Fry Robinson has been kicking a soccer ball around since she was a tot.
By RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Special to The Star
Today, the thirtysomething mother has parlayed her passion into a business. Robinson started Finesse Soccer in 2010 after a successful high school and college career.
“We offer private and small group training for female soccer players in and around Kansas City,” Robinson said. Finesse Soccer also offers weekly academy training, camps and clinics.
“You can join a group or bring a group and we will work with you,” she said.
Robinson started Finesse Soccer after returning to the Kansas City area in 2008. A graduate of the Keller School of Business at Indiana University, Robinson had worked for Deloitte Consulting in business strategy out on the West Coast before starting her own Web business. When she moved back to the Kansas City area, Robinson started Alvin H, a company focused on Web strategy and design. But Robinson missed soccer, so she called her former high school coach looking for an opportunity to coach. Before long, Robinson was back in the thick of the sport she loves coaching and teaching.
“It started with me just doing this working with scoring players,” Robinson said. “It was training kids who wanted to score more goals.… Then I brought in my friend Laura Boyer who was a goalkeeper. We actually played against each other in the state high school finals.”
Boyer played at Blue Northwest High school as well as Marquette University and professionally in Sweden. She coaches goalkeepers. Today, the two women are joined by four other trainers at Finesse Soccer who work with about 175 girls; all the trainers are former players. Finesse Soccer works with all skill levels with the goal of helping each girl improve her game.
Q: You already had a full-time business to run, so why did you start Finesse Soccer?
“I love soccer and the impact it had on me as a person, and I wanted to share that,” Robinson said. “It was a great time in my life. I loved coaching and being with the girls.”
Robinson said there was an unmet need in this area for women coaches and trainers.
“I didn’t have one until I got to college,” Robinson said. “After some parents asked me to train on the side I realized that there were really no trainers.… Men do fine, but they don’t always know how to motivate girls or relate to them.… We wanted to provide positive role models.”
Q: What experience do you bring to your work as a soccer trainer?
Robinson played soccer competitively with K.C. Heat, a local premiere team, and at Shawnee Mission East. Robinson, a mid-fielder and forward, led the Lancers to two Kansas 6A High School State Championships. She earned honors including First Team All-State, All-Metro, All-League and All-County.
Robinson landed a scholarship to play at Indiana University, where she became an Academic All-America. When she decided to leave the school’s official team, Robinson became active in club soccer at Indiana, organizing a competitive league to play other university club teams.
She’s been coaching a girls’ soccer team since her return in 2008 and allowed her business to grow from there.
“It’s legitimate and we take it seriously,” said Robinson, “but we’re having fun.… I don’t really see it as a business but more of a passion.”
Q: There are lots of soccer training programs out there. What is different about Finesse Soccer?
“Our training is customized and personalized,” Robinson said. “We look for areas of the game to help them improve and become a well-rounded player.… We run small groups and we focus on quality rather than quantity.”
Though Finesse Soccer has focused on training girls, boys are not out of the mix.
“We have trained boys,” Robinson said. “We actually have eight to 10 goalkeepers now, but we don’t necessarily market to them.”
Robinson has developed the Gold Boot and Glove Club, which is Finesse’s loyalty program that offers discount pricing for those who bring in new students. And the company is reaching out beyond the high school and premiere soccer teams for business.
“Now we offer rec team training where we’ll come in and help do technical training once a month and expose them to some of the premiere type training,” Robinson said.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge for Finesse Soccer?
“Finding good field space is challenging,” Robinson said. “Soccer is so popular, and we never go indoors.”
Finesse Soccer uses several fields in Prairie Village and for its summer camps training will use the Overland Park soccer complex.
Robinson said she works hard to strike a balance between running Finesse Soccer, her other business and caring for her infant daughter, Ada.
“It’s tricky,” said Robinson. “It’s all about being organized, and since I am self-employed, I am able to do that and control the schedule.”
Robinson said more girls continue to sign up for Finesse Soccer’s programs — and she’s happy about that.
“We’re growing because of how we’re leaving an impact on these girls,” Robinson said.