I loved watching Yari play, glad to see he's still Yari!!Thirty kindergartners in Ruth Leiderman’s class at Murray Manor Elementary School (La Mesa, CA) know him as Alexsandro’s dad. He acts like a tiger. Runs backward and shouts encouragement. Races the teacher (and lets her win).
He shows them soccer.
But Yari Allnutt, the bald-headed man in a sweatsuit who comes every week for a half-hour playtime, is a little more than that.
• Former soccer professional (for the Los Angeles Salsa, Carolina Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Rochester Rhinos and New England Revolution).
• Barcelona Olympian (with the U.S. soccer team in 1992).
• Athletic Hall of Famer at the University of Portland (where he was an NCAA Division I All-American and All-West Coast Conference Academic Team 1991-1992, who graduated cum laude with a degree in Spanish).
Now 41, Allnutt has been a coach for years, but now works as a distribution manager with U-T San Diego and lives with his wife, Candice, and two young children.
“I taught school as well,” Allnutt said Friday afternoon after his latest session on the lower fields at Murray Manor. “I taught eighth-grade math and science. I realized if you’re sedentary, not doing anything physical, it doesn’t really help your academic side.”
He thinks being active stimulates the brain—“it’s not some scientific thing I’m saying. I just feel it.”
And so do the 5- and 6-year-olds in Leiderman’s class.
In her last year as a teacher, Leiderman says she approached Allnutt to help in class after reading his biography.
“As soon as I looked at the parent questionnaires, … I saw what he did and—as I do so often—I recruit my parent volunteers,” she said.
He’s been a weekly presence since the start of school, she said. He comes Wednesdays, except for last week.
Born in Baltimore, Allnutt spent his early years in Mexico. He moved to San Diego at age 10, and became a star with the youth club La Jolla Nomads and graduated from University City High School in 1989—leading to more than a decade of high-level soccer play in Mexico and the United States.
All that was unknown Friday to the children at Murray Manor, who just were thrilled to see Alexsandro’s dad again.
With Spencer Harris, another volunteer dad helping run the show, Leiderman and Allnutt gave the kids a chance to scamper, kick and make-believe soccer stardom.
Afterward, one blond lad told a visitor: “I made five scores!”
High-fives all around.
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