|Alma Mater:||SIU Edwardsville|
The longest tenured and most successful coach in UMKC men’s soccer history, Rick Benben is entering his 19th season at the helm of the Kangaroos in 2016. He was inducted into the UMKC Athletic Hall of Fame in January of 2012.
Under his guidance, UMKC has captured four conference regular season soccer titles and has made three appearances in the NCAA College Cup with the most recent appearance coming in 2008. Benben, the fourth head coach in the Division I era, begins the 2015 season with 124 wins to his credit, and he has had more than 88 student-athletes earn all-league recognition and 17 players be named to all-region squads. Post season play has been a norm in Benben’s career, as he has guided the ‘Roos to the league tournament in 15 of his 18 seasons on the sidelines.
The 2015 team was young, with as many as seven freshmen starting in several games, and at least five starting in every contest. The Roos finished just outside the WAC Tournament field, playing an extremely tough schedule with four NCAA Tournament teams. UMKC won two of its last three games with wins over UNLV and Air Force, including a 4-1 home record in WAC play on the season.
With 2014 being year two in the Western Athletic Conference, UMKC was much more prepared for the travel rigors and level of play. It was a slow start to the year, but the 'Roos finished the year winning six of their last eight games, including a victory in the WAC Tournament quarterfinal round. They were the only team to beat regular season and tournament champion UNLV as well. Tato Chiaparro and Guerrero Pino were both honored with second-team All-WAC accolades, while Chiaparro was also an all-region selection.
2013 was a new era as UMKC played its first season in the competitive WAC. After a 3-1-1 start to conference play, UMKC struggled down the stretch, dropping their last six games, including a quarterfinal double overtime loss in the WAC Tournament. The season had some promising results as the 'Roos tied Wisconsin and No. 13 Tulsa, while defeating SMU. Jordan Rideout was a first team all-league pick, while Tato Chiaparro was named second-team.
The 2012 squad finished second in its final season in the Summit League after posting a 5-2 mark. They rebounded from a slow start to post a streak of six consecutive games unbeaten, the longest since 2003. It posted a 7-10-2 overall record and tallied three players on the All-Summit League First-Team, as well as Jordan Rideout being named All-Region at forward.
In 2011 the ‘Roos posted a 5-9-3 overall mark after losing several key players from the season before. Despite that, the ‘Roos managed to make progress throughout the season, including a win over Pac-12 opponent Oregon State on the road. UMKC finished 2-2-2 in conference play, just a point shy of qualifying for the league tournament. He also coached the Summit League Freshman of the Year (Jordan Rideout) and two first-team all-league selections, as well as two members of the All-Newcomer Team.
Benben led the Kangaroos to their fourth regular season conference championship in 2010, posting a 10-5-3 overall record, and a 4-1-1 mark in league play to earn Summit League Coach of the Year for the fourth time. The ‘Roos led the conference in both goals (1.28 pg) and goals against average (0.80 pg). They also had the league’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in John Bayron Sosa and Brian Quintana, respectively. UMKC also had three players on the all-leage first team, three on the second-team, and two on the all-newcomer squad. Sosa also became the first ever ‘Roo to be named first-team NSCAA All-Midwest Region.
In 2009, Benben guided the ‘Roos to a 7-10-2 overall record and the squad advanced to The Summit League Tournament final for the third time in four seasons. Benben’s squad was an offensive jugernaut, as it led the league in scoring for the second straight season finishing with 31 goals. The UMKC coaching veteran coached a school record five First Team all-Summit League honorees and had a pair of student-athletes garner major awards, as Bryan Perez became the second straight ‘Roo to earn Summit League Offensive Player of the Year honor, while David Sarabia was the league’s Newcomer of the Year. Perez was also tabbed as an NSCAA all-Region honoree for the third straight year - the only player in school history to accomplish the feat.
During the 2008 campaign, Benben guided the ‘Roos to 10 victories, which were the most for the program since 2003. UMKC received national recognition during the season, as the squad posted a 1-0 victory at No. 3 Creighton in September. The win helped the ‘Roos finish the year with a solid 2-1-1 record against ranked foes.
Benben coached two players to NSCAA all-Region Second Team honors in 2008 in Brian Harris and Perez. It was the second straight year that Perez had garnered all-region recognition under Benben’s watch. Harris, meanwhile, earned Summit League praise, when he became UMKC’s first player to garner Offensive Player of the Year honors. Benben then led his squad to The Summit League Tournament title - the third in school history.
Benben has claimed three Coach of the Year honors during his 15-year tenure with the most recent accolade coming on the heels of the 2003 campaign. The Kangaroos finished the season with a 10-7-3 overall record (5-1-0 conference) and an appearance in the NCAA College Cup. The squad captured the first league "double" in school history as they finished atop the regular season table before capturing the conference tournament championship.
In 2001, Benben earned the Mid-Con Coach of the Year honors after guiding his team to the best season in UMKC’s Division I history, putting together a 12-7-1 overall record and winning the first league tournament championship in school history. With their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Blue-and-Gold picked up the only NCAA Tournament win for any team sport, knocking off Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the first round by a 2-1 overtime scoreline.
With his success on the field, the Kangaroos were recognized for their achievements. Larry Scheller was named the Mid-Con Player of the Year to go along with honorable mention College Soccer News all-America honors. Scheller still is the only player in school history to receive all-America accolades.
Benben received his first Coach of the Year nod in his second season on the sidelines for the ‘Roos after he guided the squad to an 11-6-0 record. Under his direction, Erik Kuster netted nine goals to earn the Mid-Con Player of the Year accolade.
In addition to his success on the field, the ‘Roos have been honored for their work in the classroom under Benben’s tutelage. Garret Guthrie earned ESPN The Magazine Third Team Academic all-America honors and was a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, while Brian Harris was a 2008 NSCAA College Scholar all-American. In addition, the ‘Roos have had 10 academic all-region honors during Benben’s tenure.
In addition to his success with UMKC, Benben has a storied soccer career. As a player at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, he was a three-year letterwinner at goalkeeper, backstopping the squad to a national championship in 1972.
Benben became an assistant coach at SIUE after his graduation in 1973, helping to lead the team to another national championship in 1979. In 2008, Benben was recognized by his alma mater for his athletic achievements, as he was selected to the school’s Hall of Fame.
In 1982, Benben joined the professional ranks, as he became assistant coach and director of player personnel for the Kansas City Comets of the Major Indoor Soccer League. He was then named head coach of the Comets in 1984, midway through the 1983-84 season. His squad recovered to finish fourth in the Western Division, falling in a five-game playoff series to the St. Louis Steamers. During his tenure with the Comets, he missed the playoffs just once, during the 1986-87 season, his final full season with the team.
Since 1987, he has been the director of Rick Benben Soccer Camps in Lenexa, Kan., helping to educate young elite-level soccer players during the summer. He received his bachelor’s degree in physical education and health in 1973 and a master’s degree in education administration and supervision in 1976, both from SIUE.
Benben and his wife, Meg, have three children, Matt, Rachel and Andrea, and they reside in Lenexa, Kan.