Soccer star Lexi Missimo’s success starts with dad and longtime coach, Derek Missimo

Vicente Montalvo, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 21 flipbook. 

Lexi Missimo started playing soccer at six years old. She was coached by her dad Derek for 12 years  before arriving on the 40 acres.

Derek Missimo is no stranger to the game, holding the all-time record for goals scored as well as total points for UNC-Chapel Hill men’s soccer. 

With Derek having so much success playing soccer, one would think that the plan for Lexi would be set years in advance. But Derek’s plan for his daughter wasn’t originally about becoming the next Alex Morgan. 

“The plan was just for (her) to be healthy, happy, to have a positive outlet outside of school and just enjoy,” Derek said. “Lexi got involved and you could see her talent, she was unique.” 

The star freshman midfielder arrived on campus this spring after being named the No. 1 midfielder and overall recruit in the 2020 class. Having started every game this season, Missimo leads the team with 19 points and is already breaking records, becoming the fastest Longhorn to score 10 goals.  

As a youth player, Missimo quickly rose through the ranks, receiving invites to camps with Manchester City and the US Women’s National Team. 

“Up to this point from pre-academy to academy, it would be really hard to find anybody who had a better club career,” Derek said. 

The decision to graduate early from high school wasn’t easy, especially with the hectic schedule Lexi had to juggle. Twenty-seven domestic and international camps each took her out of the classroom for weeks at a time, but the Southlake High School graduate, who reclassified into the class of 2020, still managed to get it done.

“To me, I think that was her greatest accomplishment,” Derek said. “It just underscores her work ethic and commitment and discipline of ‘this is what I need to do, I got to get this done’ and she got it done.”

If Lexi keeps up the scoring pace and makes assists for her teammates, she could eventually pass her father’s records for UNC. But Lexi isn’t so caught up on surpassing her father. Instead, she’s focused on the team.

“We always joke about that, but collectively as a team, I just want to win,” Lexi said. “If I can partake in a win, as in score goals or assist or produce, then that will be great.

Having a father as your primary coach can have its challenges with countless training sessions and games. Through ups and downs, the relationship between the two has created a special bond revolving around the game they love most. 

“It wasn’t always perfect,” Lexi said. “We definitely had our moments when we disagreed, but overall, it’s been a positive experience and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

The bond that Lexi and Derek share hasn’t only made Lexi a better soccer player but also brought them closer together. 

“All you’re doing is spending time, any time you can spend with your daughters, that’s positive right, that’s everything,” Derek said. “Time is the greatest commodity we all have and to spend it with family has been very enriching.”

Lexi is set to break records during her four years in burnt orange and white. No matter where the team goes, she knows that she’ll have the support of her mother and sister, along with the person that instilled the knowledge of the game into her: her father.

“My dad, I look up to him, he’s my role model,” Lexi said. “I don’t want to get emotional over here, but all my success is thanks to him.”