Gerardo Flores
Academy Director // Daphne Rangers Academy
2023 Class of Pioneers in the Field

“I was doing everything and anything to stay in the game.” 

Today, Gerardo Flores seems to have cracked the code on how to stay in the game after hanging up your cleats as an athlete. His “game” has evolved into a love for coaching, engaging the community and a little bit of field maintenance on the side. Coach G, as he’s fondly known, is the Director of Club Development at Village Park in Daphne Alabama and Director of Coaching for Daphne Ranges Academy. Since 2013, he’s played a role in building a soccer club from scratch in his community while discovering a love for building soccer fields from seed to beautiful Bermuda. 

After a collegiate soccer career at the University of Mobile, Flores was looking to stay in the game that he loved by offering private lessons, running clinics and coaching youth sports in his community. In 2012, he was asked to come be the Director of Coaching by a group of parents who were looking to create a club of their own. As soon as the group received the green light on purchasing land that would serve as a home for their club, it was off to the races for Flores. Flores became a student of youth development, academy development and the fundamentals of building a soccer club. Flores said, “we grew a mom and pop shop into a community hub.” Village Park was born. 

Along with learning how to create a culture within his club, Flores had to learn the ropes for creating a field through the basic blocks of turfgrass. And quickly. When Flores first stepped foot at Village Park, the weeds were taller than him. After having no business on a bush hog, Flores enlisted all the community help and insight he could get in order to clear space and start dream building future fields for the club. Flores said, “We all dream as kids to be on the fields of the sports we love. We dream of being like those on TV and making a living through a game and the sport we play. What better way to stay connected to that dream than building, growing and maintaining the fields, the facility, and environment for more of those dreams to carry on.”

Flores' first dreams for the club were heavily influenced by traveling to places like Scotland and Ireland where soccer is accessible in every neighborhood through small soccer pitches sprinkled throughout the community. Flores brought that concept to Daphne by creating his 5v5 mini pitch called “The Cage.” It was his first labor of love for the club that started with sod, irrigation, a black fence and white lines. The club was able to start hosting open field nights, pick up games, and clinics with the field. The action was immediate. Through more community involvement the club has been able to elevate the field to what it is today, a pillar in the club’s history and future. 

Next on the vision board for Flores was making an 11v11 field a reality. At times the 11v11 field felt like a dream far off in the distance, but again through an engaged community, Flores and the team were able to bring the vision to life. Flores said, “we took a farm field and created a beautiful soccer pitch. What started as seed is one day going to open a ton of doors for our club.” 

Laura Wilber, another coach at Village Park, reflected on how Flores has served as a source of inspiration to her and the operations team during times when the undertaking of starting a club and facility from scratch was daunting. Wilber said, “One of coach G’s greatest attributes is that when he sees a need that will benefit the game and the people involved in it, he doesn’t hesitate to work to make it a reality. Five years ago he knew a small-sided pitch would greatly improve the quality of our players and enhance our club culture. Today we have “The Cage,” a 5v5 field that he meticulously manicures. This past year he has worked tirelessly to clear, level, seed, irrigate, sand, mow, etc to create our beautiful 11v11 playing surface. It’s impossible not to look at these well-loved spaces and acknowledge that Coach G has created them with his heart and hands.” 

Flores laughed about how managing grass has become a big part of his daily life. Flores said, “I love to joke and say Farmer Flores is taking the field. Turfgrass is all about creating something better. I love watching something grow and improve. I enjoy cutting the grass and fertilizing, but my favorite is lining the fields. Overall this job has taught me patience. Having to show patience to see something grow. I’d come out here every morning with my coffee and watch the grass grow. I was like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace, grumpy and eager to see the project complete. Through taking care and building these fields I’ve learned that nothing happens overnight. All good things take time. That valued lesson of patience can be applied to everything in life, parenting, creating a business and growing grass. While the field maintenance is sometimes a one-man band operation, there are so many people in this community that have stepped up and that I know I can rely on.” 

The lessons Coach G. has taught me are endless. He’s taught me to not fear, but rather to embrace failure. He’s encouraged me to welcome a team instead of trying to go at it on my own. He inspires me to keep learning and growing in all areas of my life. He’s given me perspective on winning and losing and the seriousness of life. He’s shared with me the value of saying 'hello' and 'goodbye.' Coach G gives what he does out of pure passion and love of the game and people.”

Laura Wilbur - Coach at Daphne Rangers Academy

Community has been at the center of each goal, project and dream for Village Park. Flores and the rest of the team at Village park were driven by the simple idea of creating a place through a sport they all loved that was for anyone and everyone. Whether families are looking for an outlet for their homeschooled kids to socialize or a safe avenue to soccer for kids with disabilities or a pathway to the highly competitive arenas of soccer. Village Park is a place where everyone can find their level of interest. Flores said, “I’m a big believer in community being at the core of every mission for Village Park. We all long for that sense of belonging or to be connected by something bigger than ourselves. Our connection is soccer and we’re really proud of being able to create a place of inclusiveness. When we opened the doors to Village Park, we wanted to give our players, parents and outside community access to our mission. We have a walking path around the park, open to anyone. We're hoping that by inviting everyone in, we’re making a long-term investment in people.” 

Coach G. is a visionary and pioneer in all he chooses to do. He is motivated only by the desire to improve himself and the people and the circumstances around him. He does all this through education, hard work, and respect. I believe that no matter the situation, opponents, supporters, players, and colleagues would all agree with this. He’s rightly admired, appreciated, and loved in our small club family and well beyond the perimeters of his fields.”

Laura Wilbur, Coach at Daphne Rangers Academy


Another time when the community took top priority for coach G was in the first couple months of the Covid pandemic in 2020. Laura Wilber reflected on how Flores ensured the youth had something to keep them connected to soccer and their community during lockdown. Wilber said, “Covid shut down our community, including our soccer club, in March of 2020. Within weeks, Coach G was catering to our club families by traveling alone from house to house lining small soccer fields in front and back yards.” Wilber concluded by saying how well respected Flores is in the community and club. “Coach G is a visionary and pioneer in all he chooses to do. He is motivated only by the desire to improve himself and the people and the circumstances around him. He does all this through education, hard work, and respect. I believe that no matter the situation, opponents, supporters, players, and colleagues would all agree with this. He’s rightly admired, appreciated, and loved in our small club family and well beyond the perimeters of his fields.”

The past decade has been a whirlwind of learning curves and rewarding endeavors for Gerardo Flores. When we asked what he hopes for the future of Village Park, he related it back to his family on the homefront and the community within the club. Flores said, “For my wife, Cheryl, and our three girls, our future will be soccer focused in some way. My wife coaches here and my three daughters think I’ve hung the moon at Village Park. I hope my girls are proud of what I was able to build here at the park and that they know I was doing something I love. It’s been so special to watch your kids play and enjoy something that you had a hand in creating. I take a lot of pride in my family being able to enjoy the fruits of this labor. When I think about the future of this park and its impact on the community, that’s a big question. I hope for continued growth. I know that growth comes with struggle, with success and with amazing experiences. In 50 years I hope people will sit over a beer or coffee and share stories of their time at Village Park, or remember positive memories of our soccer club. I hope this place lives on to leave kids, players or families with a sense of peace, inspiration and community.” 

Gerardo Flores found a way to stay in the game. He transformed his love for playing soccer into a fruitful career in coaching, field maintenance and community building. Flores is a testament to a route we hope other athletes embark on one day. Whether it’s through his work on the soccer field or his dedication to developing the academy or his story you’ve read here today, we know Flores will continue to serve as an inspiration to us all.