EDMONTON – With the Griffins men's soccer team having been a big part of his journey of maturation, when Kapri (Marcus) Simmons signed a pro contract with FC Edmonton last week, a great collective of mentors, friends, teammates and family shared in his happiness.
The emotion in the voice of MacEwan men's soccer head coach Adam Loga – who has been like a big brother to Simmons – said it all.
"Our relationship is very close, so it's just …" said Loga, his voice trailing off under a wave of emotion.
"To see it work out (with a pro contract), I'm so happy for him. It's just massive for him. He's always wanted this. I couldn't be happier."
Simmons was quick to credit his time at MacEwan during the 2018 and 2019 Canada West seasons for helping him get to where he is today. Raised by a single mother in a journey documented in this feature, the Griffins became like a second family for him.
"I think coming to MacEwan for my first year and playing two years there really helped me build my character," he said. "Loga is a guy that's really keen on helping to build character. It was a struggle for the first year because we were a young team and we didn't get a lot of good results. But he always kept us positive and focused on the brighter side of each game even though the results weren't going our way. He just pushed us to always try and stay positive. That was a big help.
"I'd say going to MacEwan was definitely a big part of where I am now."
The feisty forward, who produced a goal and three assists over a 23-game stint over two seasons with the Griffins, was among the squad's most dangerous attackers, consistently creating space for teammates and winning battles with his spirited style. That's the kind of play that will benefit FC Edmonton, too.
"He does have a very unique style," said Loga. "That edge and bite is probably a good reason he's got the promotion to pro football. Him learning how to manage that and us working with him to help him manage that … and him having the wherewithal and self-reflection to mature through the process has been awesome. I couldn't be prouder."
Kapri (Marcus) Simmons celebrates after scoring against the Mount Royal University Cougars during the 2019 Canada West season (Chris Piggott photo).
The 21-year-old former member of FC Edmonton Academy finished his U SPORTS career with York University in 2021-22, helping the Lions win a silver medal in the OUA. Loga helped facilitate the transfer as a way to land more opportunities for Simmons to go pro.
"When he wasn't really getting the opportunity to get promoted up to FC Edmonton, he felt it was time to try another city, hence the move to York over the COVID break," said Loga of being in the backyard of CPL squad York United FC. "We were just trying to map out the best way possible for him to get (to the pro ranks) and it worked out. It's nice when you see things work out this way for the best."
Simmons will now join FC Edmonton for the 2022 CPL season, which kicks off on April 10 vs. Valour FC (2 p.m., Clarke Stadium).
"It hasn't really sunk in yet," said Simmons. "I think it will sink in when I actually make my debut. Training with the first team and going through the process of signing the contract has been exciting. It was not easy."
As part of their spring non-conference schedule, the Griffins squared off against Simmons and FC Edmonton in scrimmages earlier this month and will meet them again in a formal exhibition match on April 1 (10 a.m., Clarke Stadium, closed to the public).
"I'd like to thank MacEwan," said Simmons. "I don't think people understand going into university how hard it really is to be a student athlete. MacEwan provides you with help in managing school (and an athlete's schedule).
"In my first year, my first semester, it was quite difficult just adjusting to doing everything yourself, managing being on the road and going to class the day you get back, sometimes late at night. I'm thankful I went to MacEwan and I'm thankful Loga supported me in going to York."