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Joe Sithonnorath

Joe Sithonnorath is a former soccer player and coach from Des Moines, IA.  He was a stand-out player at Drake University, a member of the U.S. Olympic Development team and U.S. Amature National Team.  Joe was drafted to the Kansas City Comets, played for the semi-pro USL2 Des Moines Menace, and is currently a high school soccer coach.  

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A Dream Delayed

The news that every refugee waits for finally came. Khamsone Sithonnorath was able to leave behind the despair of the camp in Thailand.  His ticket out came in the form of an offer to play professional soccer with a Thai team, but there was just one problem.  The young lady that he had fallen in love with was departing for a new life in America with her family and he would face a life-altering choice. Khamsone’s dream of becoming a soccer star may have ended when he boarded that flight to the U.S.A. but he would pass on his passion for the game to his American-born son, Joe.

Khamsone Sithonnorath was a rising soccer star in Laos during the 1970’s who made the Lao National Team at the age of seventeen. He fled the country after the war and found himself in a Thai refugee camp where he met his future wife Vien.  While in the camp he continued to play soccer and his relationship with Vien blossomed.  Vien’s family secured a sponsor and as they departed for a new life in the United States. He vowed that one day they would be reunited. Khamsone’s soccer skills caught the eye of scouts from a professional team in Thailand just as he was approved for resettlement in the U.S.A.  He passed on the offer and headed to America to be reunited with Vien. 

Joe Sithonnorath was born in Des Moines, Iowa, where he became a standout soccer player at Des Moines Lincoln High School.  At the age of seventeen, he was the only player from Iowa to be selected to join the Region 2 Midwest Olympic Development Team.  Joe headed to Costa Rica on a team that was stacked with young talent including future MLS star Jack Jewsbury.  They defeated the Costa Rica U-17 National Team 3-2 with Joe scoring one of the goals. 

After graduating from Lincoln Joe opted to play locally with the NCAA Division I Drake University Bulldogs where he made an immediate impact.  As a four-year starter, he was named All Missouri Valley Conference and NSCAA All-Region from 1999-2002.  In one match against Northwestern University Joe punched a goal in during the first fifteen seconds of the game leading the Bulldogs to a 3-2 victory over the Wildcats. 

During 2001 Joe was playing at a US Olympic Development Team tournament in Houston, he became one of seventeen players selected to join the U.S. Amateur National Team.  Upon graduation from Drake Joe was selected by the Kansas City Comets in the third round of the 2002 MISL draft but he instead joined the USL2 Des Moines Menace where he played until 2005. 

Joe currently lives in the Des Moines area with his wife Lisa and their two children. Soccer remains a big part of his life and he spent several years as an assistant coach at Dowling Catholic High School.  He is also a member/volunteer with Kick it Forward, a 501c non-profit organization that works to make soccer accessible to all children. Joe’s many contributions to the organization include running free soccer clinics for the Altoona Kids Café, conducting U6 soccer clinics to help the youngest players get their start in the sport, and overseeing fundraising events such as the Kick it Forward golf outing.  In 2021 Joe’s soccer career would come full circle when he was named head coach of his alma mater, Des Moines Lincoln High School. 

About this Article

Information for this article came from interviews with Joe Sithonnorath and Daniel Finney of the Paragraph Stacker. 

Last Updated: January 01, 2022

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