For a guy whose future is up in the air, Kyle Venter won’t be short on options.
The FC Tucson defender’s contract expires after Friday’s season finale vs. North Texas SC, but he’ll stick around town until at least mid-November — the team captain also moonlights as a volunteer assistant for the UA women’s team.
“I’d love to get into coaching whenever my playing career ends,” Venter said.
“The age group I like the best is college because I like the college atmosphere. I used to think, ‘Oh, I want to coach men,’ and then I started helping out with the FC Tucson Women and at UA and had so much fun and have had great experiences with it. Now, I don’t care if I coach men or women.”
The 28-year old Aurora, Colorado, native isn’t ready to dive fully into that next chapter of his career just yet.
He hopes to return to FC Tucson in 2020 for a second season with the club, a decision that will be made by management in the coming weeks.
Tucson is the latest stop in a professional career that began in 2014, when Venter was drafted 23rd overall by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft out of New Mexico.
Since then, Venter has played in the USL Championship with the Galaxy’s reserve team, the Tulsa Roughnecks, Ottawa Fury FC and Penn FC before dropping down to USL League One this season and providing leadership to a young FC Tucson team.
“My natural inclination is to be vocal,” Venter said. “I’ve been on a few different teams in a few different parts of the country — I’ve been around the block and I’ve seen a lot.”
FC Tucson coach Darren Sawatzky leans on the commanding center back as often as he can.
“Kyle has been an excellent player and an excellent coach within the game for us,” Sawatzky said. “He has a future as a coach and some good years ahead of him playing. It’s a pleasure working with him.”
With himself and most of his teammates being newcomers to Tucson, that guiding influence isn’t solely limited to on-field matters.
“Part of being a professional is delivering each and every day,” Venter said. “Whether that’s in practice, on an off-day taking care of your body or putting it all together on game day, what matters is putting in the effort and keeping that consistency.”
It’s been that lack of consistency — and “a lot of little things that went wrong and have added up” — that has led to a disappointing season overall for FC Tucson (8-10-9).
The Men in Black sit in eighth place out of 10 teams, 20 points behind league-leading North Texas (16-6-5).
“On a broad scale, they’re the most complete team in the league,” Sawatzky said of North Texas. “They do everything well. As a team, they keep the ball well, they move it around well, the decisions they make are very good. On an individual basis, they have some special players and they deserve to be on top of the standings at the end of the year.”
Stressing the importance of finishing the season strong, Venter knows that he and his teammates are playing for something more than pride. They’re also playing for a future — whatever that holds.
“Every game means something, and if you want to stay in the professional game, you have to produce. You never know who’s watching you,” Venter said. “We would love to send (North Texas) into the playoffs with an unsure mind.”