Soccer dads

Local dads share stories of fatherhood and fútbol

Written by Sara Garrison

As the popularity of soccer has increased in the United States over the years, so has the sport’s popularity in the Wichita area. Now more than ever, there are opportunities for children of all ages to play and develop a passion for soccer.

Martin Penafiel is the head coach for boys’ and girls’ soccer at Andover High School, and was previously head coach for the boys’ Premier teams at F.C. Wichita Academy in '03 and '08. He explains how the sport is a wonderful way for kids to be active and learn important life skills.

“To me, the soccer ball is a hook to teach kids about character, teamwork and being held accountable for your actions in both a positive and negative way,” says Penafiel. “Playing soccer prepares kids for life and teaches them that on the field and in life you will struggle and have ups and downs. The soccer field is like a stage, it displays a child’s true character and it is an opportunity to build their character as well.”

Three Wichita dads share how soccer has made a positive impact in their family’s lives and why being a dad is so rewarding.

Daniel Fiszel

Daniel Fiszel developed a love of soccer at a very early age. He was born and raised in Argentina where individuals of all ages love the sport.

Daniel and his wife, Silvana, and their boys, Dallas and Tommy, moved to Wichita in 2001. Daniel was with the Air Force at the time and was working as an aeronautical engineer. In 2002, Daniel started coaching his sons’ soccer teams. He formed the club team the Rojos, and the club has grown over the years. Five years ago the Rojos became Sporting Wichita — a Sporting Kansas City affiliated team.

Daniel’s son’s Dallas and Tommy played soccer throughout their growing-up years. In high school they played for the Andover High School team. They both continued playing soccer in college and now both young men coach Sporting Wichita soccer teams.

“I am so happy that my boys are enjoying what they are doing. Last year both of my boys coached teams that won the Kansas Cup state tournament, and regionals,” says Daniel. “Both of their teams went to nationals and one of their teams won nationals last year. I could not be more proud of my boys.”

Daniel continues, “Coaching soccer is a love and passion for me, I enjoy teaching kids to play soccer and enjoy the sport. I am proud that my boys are helping the kids learn and develop a love for soccer. That is the legacy I hoped to pass on to them. Our soccer club is not just about soccer and kicking the ball. We are a family.”

Brad Pepper

Brad Pepper loves spending time with his family and supporting his kids in whatever activities they choose. He and his wife, Dana, have five children ranging in age from 4 to 23 years old. “The best thing to me about being a dad, is watching the family camaraderie and spending time together,” says Brad.

As educators by trade, Brad and Dana believe athletics teach children important skills that they will use throughout their lives.

“Sports teach character, leadership, persistence and adversity. In life, things don’t always go as planned. Learning from those trials and tribulations helps kids grow as individuals,” says Brad. “This translates into academics and even family relationships. You have to have the down times to appreciate the good ones.”

Each of Brad and Dana’s children has played various competitive sports over the years. 18-year-old daughter Baileigh started playing soccer at age 10. Quickly she fell in love with the sport, giving her the competitive drive to pursue her dream of playing collegiate soccer. Today, Baileigh is senior captain for the Andover High School varsity girls’ soccer team. She plays for the Rush club team during the off-season and will play collegiate soccer at Washburn University this fall.

“We are so proud of her. She has always wanted to play at the collegiate level. She has never wavered. She pursued her dream, attained it and will live it this fall,” says Brad. “Each of our children is exceptional and incredible to my wife and I. As a parent it is important to cherish every moment with your kids, because every day is a blessing.”

Jerramy Pankratz

Jerramy Pankratz and his wife, Erin, started the Wichita Raptors soccer club nine years ago. Although Jerramy did not grow up playing competitive soccer, his sons Wyatt and Dalton started playing at a young age.

“My children got me into coaching soccer,” explains Jerramy. “I wanted to coach, because I wanted to have an opportunity to be around my children more and be involved with them on a different level. It is fun to coach your kids as a dad. Coaching is a great way to shape an important aspect of a child’s character that will help them in their careers and in life.”

“Team sports of all kinds play a critical role in socialization with kids and building a competitive drive that helps in all aspects of life,” says Jerramy.

Wyatt, 16, and Dalton, 12, currently play soccer for the Wichita Raptors. Wyatt also plays for the Rush soccer club during the off-season and the Augusta High School soccer team.

“Being a husband and father are most important in my life. Both of my children are great kids. They do well in school and their activities,” says Jerramy. “To me, coaching is an extension of parenting. What I hope to teach my players, and my boys, is that working as a team, pursuing a common goal is a critical skill in the workforce. This is something all players can learn through sports. I also want them to learn, it is important to have a competitive drive and strive to the best you can be, in whatever activity you choose to do.”

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