Kyle Troutman: A farewell to coaching

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

When I moved to Cassville almost 7 years ago, there was one big part of my life that I was essentially forced to give up — playing and refereeing soccer.

The sport had been a major part of my life since I started playing at the age of 3. I spent much of my youth traveling from Little Rock, Ark., to tournaments in Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana.

I also played every summer in the Olympic Development Program, went on to play for my high school team that took state runner-up my senior year in the largest class in the state, and I played two seasons at Central Baptist College in Conway, Ark., where in 2007 we finished 7th at the National Christian Collegiate Athletics Association National Championships.

I also refereed from the age of 11, traveling to tournaments across the southeast. My accomplishments there included two appearances at the US Youth Soccer Region III Tournament, as well as two trips to referee at the Disney Soccer Showcase at Disney World in Florida.

While most of my soccer resumé was in my youth, before moving to Cassville, I still spent my Sundays playing for two teams in the men’s amateur league in North Little Rock, Ark., as well as refereed in the league in between my scheduled games.

While I was beyond excited to become the editor of the Cassville Democrat, I couldn’t help but feel I was losing a part of myself with the lack of playing and refereeing options in the area.

It wasn’t until the fall of 2018 the possibility of my return to the sport was presented, and in the only area I had no experience — coaching.

I had been friends with Cassville Soccer Coach Jake Forste since he took the position, and he and Athletic Director Doug Martin pushed me to see if I could make my schedule work to take the assistant coach’s role and bring an expanded level of experience to the Wildcats soccer program.

Unfortunately, due to some changes here at the paper, my role in coverage is expanding and I will not be able to continue as the assistant coach.

While stressful at times, taking the job is a decision I will never regret, and I made memories with those players and teams that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Coming out of the gate, I was a bit quiet. My knowledge of fundamentals, tactics and the game in general are exceptional, but my complete lack of experience as a coach made things difficult at times.

I took countless cues from Coach Forste and began to mold my own coaching style. It’s a bit frustrating that after four seasons, I feel like I was finally starting to get good at it, and now I have to leave.

As sad as it is, looking back provides some comfort. My first season with the team was on the girls’ side as a volunteer. It was their first official varsity season, and my, did they set a high mark.

Winning an overtime Golden Goal walk-off against New Covenant in the first-ever varsity home game was one of the biggest highlights, as was beating Monett in overtime in the first round of district play. For a team to go 11-10 in its first varsity season was remarkable, and I hope that team’s level of growth and determination to get wins continues to be a hallmark of the program.

On the boys’ side, a board member of the Seven Valleys Soccer Club in Cassville, my biggest source of excitement was how the club would affect incoming freshman numbers, and boy, did they ever.

Gaining almost a dozen new players every year is a boon to any high school program, and as assistant spending most of my time with the junior varsity players, they were my guys.

Seeing so many of those young men, with the guidance of Coach Forste and myself, start to understand more fully the finer points of the game and adjust accordingly to become better players is a feeling I had never had before and will forever cherish.

I also learned first-hand that, as many coaches I’ve interviewed over the years have said, learning is a two-way street.

Some of the more important things I’ve learned over the past two years are lessons in patience, persistence, dedication and perseverance. Things may not have always gone our way or been as easy as they could have been (thanks, in part, to COVID-19 this year), but watching time and time again how we as a team came together and fought until the final whistle was a lesson that I will carry with me and hopefully get to share with others.

I also learned some things I never expected. This past season, for example, I learned how the entire “Phineas and Ferb” theme song goes, as the team would loudly perform a Capella versions on occasion. I also learned how to play the game “Among Us” and what it means to be “sus.” If you don’t know what it means, you’re probably a bit sus, yourself.

While there is so much about coaching and being part of the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats I will miss, I will still get to be around from time to time.

My expanded duties at the paper involve taking over sports coverage in 2021, and I am excited to report on the team, and all other athletics teams in our coverage area, with a level of reporting all the athletes, parents and patrons will thoroughly enjoy.

And maybe, from time to time, I will also stop by a practice or two and show them this old guy can still play.

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