Gregg Munn has gone full circle and across the globe – in his football career, and his new coaching role at Mars Hill University.
The 26-year-old upped sticks from Stirling Albion and his Larbert home and headed to the USA and Mars Hill College in 2010 on a football scholarship.
Eight years on and four after graduating, Munn has found himself BACK at Mars Hill, as the now University’s head soccer coach. And he’s still going full circle – around the globe – on Skype and Facetime trying to lure players from as far afield as Panama, Sweden and Scotland, to his new programme.
It’s a big step for someone so young to take on a U.S. college side playing in the NCAA division two in a fiercely competitive football district – or soccer as Munn sometimes slips into the local parlance.
“When I left Mars Hill I knew I could be a college coach and I just didn’t know how soon that would be,” he told The Falkirk Herald. “It’s definitely full circle if that makes sense. It’s a great opportunity for me career-wise and I’m definitely humbled by the opportunity to go back to a school and a programme that I played for and graduated from and to lead it forward and be a big part of its success in the future.
“It was a great four years at Mars Hill – a great experience and I had a lot of success on and off the field. Where I graduated I stepped away and got a job in Charlotte.
“I was a director of coaching so I worked for Charlotte Soccer Academy – probably the second biggest in North Carolina – for three and a half years, earning my stripes and working hard to develop my coaching experience and just to understand and learn the game in making contacts and running programmes.
“It’s a different role in terms of the club game is the youth sides up through High School age and kids then move on to college so in the club game it’s more the younger kids through to the high school seniors. For me and the college game it’ll be different because now you’re running a full programme. I’m doing the recruiting I’m doing the budgets and coaching - everything.
“To get the opportunity to get involved in the college game is one I couldn’t pass up. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since leaving school and Mars Hill.”
But now he’s back. and going full circle was not just a career move, it was an emotional one too. “The programme and school means a lot to me and to my wife, Stephanie, because she played softball at Mars Hill and graduated as well, so it definitely means a lot to be able to go back.
“She loves the school and the area so that always helps if you can keep the missus happy too!”
However while he’s winding his way back to where it all began Stateside, he’s branching out across the globe seeking players – and even eyeing some back home in Scotland.
Dad Derek was a pro and younger brother Blair is involved with the Pro Performance Academy at Coasters in Grangemouth Road having been on the books at Falkirk as a youth. The contacts and roots are there, as they are with Stirling Albion where Munn played before a short spell at Dunipace, and coaching with Falkirk Academy.
“At Mars Hill we have a lot of international players,” Gregg added. “When I played we had a lot from South America, a few from Australia, some English and Scottish guys. Now we have Scandinavian guys and a few English. I’m hoping for a few Scottish guys too and I’ve just signed a player from Panama, so its a very diverse group of players who come from a lot of different backgrounds and levels.
“The college game is very different from what it would be in Scotland. It’s not as fast and frantic and more athletic if that makes sense.
“If it was in Scotland I would probably say you’re looking at your Championship, your second tier of professional standpoint just with the environment you’re in.
“You combine all of your different countries and nationalities on one programme so it leads to a pretty good brand of soccer being played.
“For me as a player it definitely helped me become better working with a lot of different nationalities and playing against them it helps you grow as a player and grow as a person and become a little bit more cultured.
“I’ve come from a sporting and football background. My family has been super supportive to my journey and when I made this decision back in 2010 to come over to the States it was a huge decision but I think since then the amount of players who have come over and took on the scholarship approach and tried to play college soccer, there’s been a lot and it’s great to see.
“For younger players it’s a great option nowadays and something to consider. The lifestyle is fantastic and it’s exciting to see where some players are headed and the opportunities that are out there if you chase them a bit.
“I just didn’t realise mine would come this soon!”
“I’m very young to be going into this kind of job. I am also very humbled by the fact Mars Hill has given me the opportinity.
“There’s going to be a learning curve for sure but I’m the type of person who’s going to work hard, care and go above and beyond to try and be successful there.”