By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Four years ago, Chris Michaelis watched the World Cup with intense interest.

This time around, Michaelis is a little busy and hasn't seen much of group play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Michaelis is taking over as athletic director/assistant principal at Hays High School, starting July 1. Until then, he is busy getting up to speed on an AD's duties. That leaves little time left for the "beautiful game."

"It's hard not being able to sit down, watch the games from start to finish," Michaelis said recently in his office, where he had a small TV tucked in the corner, tuned to World Cup coverage.

Four years ago, Michaelis was glued to the TV.

"Assistant coaches and I would go down to the Q or somewhere, watch the game," he said.

And now ...

"Little busy, trying to learn all the stuff behind the scenes," Michaelis said.

Michaelis took over for Clint Albers, who announced in March he was leaving HHS to become athletic director at Olathe South.

"That caught me by surprise," Michaelis said. "Clint's been a great mentor and friend."

Michaelis, who took over Hays High's boys' and girls' soccer programs from Day 1 in 1997, stepped down last year to go into administration at the school.

When he was in high school, there wasn't soccer, said Michaelis, who played other sports. When he got his first teaching job at a private middle school in Manhattan, he also was the soccer coach. Michaelis quickly got himself up to speed, learning all he could about the sport.

"Just learned the game that way," he said. "I just really enjoyed the game of soccer."

Even though he has a passion for the game, it wasn't all that hard to walk away from it last year, Michaelis said.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," he said. "It's kind of like a kid -- you raise it up, you have to let your child go."

As for this year's World Cup:

"Brazil's going to be good, playing in their home country," Michaelis said. "It's hard for me to say right now, after watching Germany dismantle Portugal. Germany has to be a favorite."

Michaelis said he doesn't have a favorite professional club team -- not Arsenal, not Manchester United, not Real Madrid.

"I consider myself pretty traditional," he said. "I just enjoy watching the game of soccer."