Davenport grad scores dream job

Mirza Harambasic,‘14 BBA, was a student-athlete at Davenport University, and he is now at the top of his game as the goalkeeper coach for Real Salt Lake, a Major League Soccer club in the Western Conference.

Harambasic transferred to Davenport from Calvin University in 2013. He said he was drawn to Davenport for the academics and the soccer.

“I’ve always associated Davenport with soccer, primarily because I had several friends who were on the soccer team,” said Harambasic. “When I was in high school and I started looking at colleges, Davenport was one of the final schools that I thought about going to. When I started college, I met a lot of guys on the Davenport team and they spoke very highly of the university and the academic side of it.”

During his time at Davenport, Harambasic learned valuable life lessons in the classroom and on the field that serve him well in his career. Today, he passes those same valuable lessons on to his own players.

“The two most important things that Coach Hughes and the staff instilled in me were the hunger to improve and the relentless mentality to be the best,” said Harambasic. “It wasn’t always easy to be at the top of my game physically and mentally during a busy college schedule. Eventually, I figured out the best tools to cope and grow, which helped me strive to be my best and climb the ranks in my coaching career.”

Once Harambasic graduated from Davenport, he knew his soccer journey wasn’t over. He knew he still wanted to be involved in soccer, just not as a player. His former teammate Stuart Collins, the assistant coach for Davenport’s men’s soccer team, offered him his first coaching opportunity.

“My coaching career started at Davenport, and I realized right away that I loved coaching soccer,” said Harambasic. “I’m thankful to have had the opportunity because it helped kickstart my coaching career, and the entire experience has been such an inspiration.”

Harambasic eventually made his way to Utah in 2019 and started coaching at the Salt Lake Academy, a public charter high school that helps students develop their soccer skills. During his time there, Harambasic helped prepare his players for a future at the collegiate or professional level.

“The Salt Lake Academy really focuses on the individual and player development,” said Harambasic. “Yes, you are trying to help the players be successful on the field so they can hopefully sign a professional contract someday, but that’s not your only job as a coach. You are also mentoring and guiding them off the field to make sure that if they don’t get the chance to play professionally, they are able to attend a good university and set themselves up for a positive future.

After working at the academy for about a year, Harambasic moved up to its professional women’s team, The Utah Royals. This move allowed Harambasic to pivot his coaching techniques from player development to focusing on strategy and helping players prepare for games.

In 2023, Harambasic was called up once again to his dream position at Real Salt Lake for the 2024 season.

“I adore my job, and I’m one of those few people who love going to work every day,” said Harambasic.  “Soccer is something that has always been part of my life. Transitioning from player to coach, I still get to be on the grass, meet a lot of very cool and interesting people, and be involved in the game. I still get to experience the energy of the games where there are 20,000 to 40,000 people in the stands; I can feel the excitement and the buzz. It is a tremendous feeling.”

Even though Harambasic is excelling, he still has goals for himself and his career. For now, he looks forward to helping his Real Salt Lake players be the best they can be and developing the team. Coaching is Harambasic’s passion, and he is beyond excited to see where it will lead him.


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