Area soccer coach pays it forward to athletes of tomorrow

Area soccer coach pays it forward to athletes of tomorrow

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Oleg Chichkanov came from Russia to the Coast some 25 years ago, and he's stayed in Mississippi ever since. Now, why is that, you ask?

"To be honest with you, the beautiful weather!" Chichkanov said. "The beautiful weather and living by the beach, that attracted me and I stayed around."

A quarter of a century ago, the man they call "Chic" came to South Mississippi with the Russian Youth National Team to attend Long Beach High School, eventually signing to play collegiately at William Carey. After his playing days were over, he founded the Gulf Coast United Futbol Club, now in their 14th year of existence. He may not be a Gulf Coast native, but it's safe to say, he's put down some roots.

"It definitely does," Chic said when asked if the Coast feels like home. "I feel like it's definitely almost my first home. My second home - I left Moscow 25 years ago. My parents are still there, but I enjoy this place without a question. (The Coast) is my place."

As the Gulf Coast United Director of Coaching, Chic now spends his days paying it forward for younger athletes looking to live out their dream, such as Ocean Springs senior Kealan Baggett.

"Oh it's great," Baggett said of learning from Chichkanov. "I love learning under him. He obviously has a lot of experience, and his accent's the best!"

Accent or not, there's no misunderstanding Chic's goal. It's to give back to the Coast, which has given so much to him.

"The reason we started Gulf Coast United 14 years ago is to make sure that the kids in this area have the opportunity that I had to go to college, play on a scholarship and eventually pursue their career as a possibly - on a national level professionally just like I did," Chic said. "I feel like with the coaching staff that we have here in our club that we're offering this opportunity to our players."

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.