FORTVILLE — Content in retirement, Steve Williams wasn’t looking for a coaching job.
In fact, the former Mt. Vernon boys soccer coach yielded managing duties of his U-17 club team for the upcoming spring season.
“It was going to be the first time I haven’t coached a team in like 30 years,” he said. “I got refreshed.”
An avid follower of both Marauder soccer programs, Williams was well aware of the girls open coaching position, but said the vacancy “wasn’t even on my radar.”
Recently, MV co-athletic director Greg Roach approached Williams to gauge his interest regarding the opening. The coaching seed was planted.
“I took a couple of days. My initial reaction was, ‘Oh, I’m not sure.’ I was indecisive,” said Williams, who coached the Mt. Vernon boys from 2000-08. “The more I thought about it, I thought I’d kind of love the challenge. I’ve watched the girls over the years; not with the eye that a coach would have as much as a spectator. I really admired the job Casey (Dodd) did with them.
“The pieces were all there as far as the administration, the people there. It’s a family atmosphere. I really get along with (co-athletic director) Derek (Shelton), Greg and Chad (Soden), the assistant coach. It’s a bunch of nice people that if was going to come back and coach again, this would be the place I would love to coach.”
Williams was approved earlier this week by the MV school board. He succeeds Dodd, who went 83-51-3 in seven seasons before stepping down after the 2013 campaign to spend more time with his family and infant child.
Interestingly, Williams was Dodd’s club coach when Dodd was in high school at New Palestine. Dodd coached the MV freshmen team under Williams during his first year of teaching, and said Williams’ recommendation played a large role in him getting the girls job.
“He is someone that I deeply respect and he has been a mentor to me since my playing days,” Dodd said. “Steve is responsible for teaching me much of what I know about this game, and in an indirect way has helped get the girls program where it is today by always offering valuable advice to me whenever I asked. I’m pleased knowing the program is in good hands.”
Williams stepped away from the boys team following the 2008 season, ceding head coaching duties to former Marauder player Aaron Britt. Under Williams, the Marauders were 101-56-12, winning five sectional crowns and four regional titles. Williams was Britt’s assistant for the 2009 season before leaving the program in an official capacity.
“I had been coaching for many years, just in general. I have coached travel since 1984. And to be honest with you, Aaron asked me at some point of how long I was going to keep coaching. In 2005 I told him, ‘Hey, if you stay with me for three more seasons, I’ll get out the way, let you coach and I’ll help you.’ That’s basically what happened,” Williams said. “I felt really good about the place I was at and moving on. He had been with me for nine years, so I really respected the fact that he … not too many assistants would stay in that mode for that many years. I felt good about it, he was like one of my kids. I was looking forward to watching him.”
Though he has a daughter that played soccer for a few years, Williams has never coached a girls team. But Williams has attended MV girls games, and he said he knows many of the players already – some help him out at the youth soccer camp he runs.
The Marauders were 12-5 last season and claimed the program’s initial Hoosier Heritage Conference crown with a 6-0 conference mark. But their season ended with a heart-breaking 5-4 (3-2 PK) loss to New Palestine in the sectional semifinals, a familiar conclusion for a program with six straight winning seasons but no sectional championships – or even a berth in the sectional title game – to show for it. MV’s lone sectional title came in 1996.
“I think they have all the pieces to have really good success. We all know that ultimate success comes tournament time. They’re right there, they really are,” Williams said. “My definition of success with soccer in general is play to your potential, win games you should win, win a few games you shouldn’t win and never lose a game you shouldn’t lose.
“Maybe in the long run, it can be something that they can build with, this (2013 sectional) loss on their record and maybe it’s something that will motivate them. I’ll be sure to give them my 100 percent.”
Williams, who will retain the entire coaching staff including Soden, the varsity assistant, should inherit a talented bunch. Led by 2013 Hancock County Player of the Year Claudia Brown, seven of team’s top 10 goal scorers were non-seniors. With three-year starter Olivia Coleman between the woodwork, the black-and-gold defense posted eight shutouts.
“They lost a few players, and to be honest with you I’m still learning some of the players. The pieces are there,” said Williams, who will hold a team meeting April 2. “I think they have a good program and a good base to drive from. If they believe in it, I think they can do well.
“I’d really like to see the girls have some success and go on to some things. It was a win-win for me. It was never my intent to come out of retirement and do this, but having thought about it, it does seem like a challenge that I thought I would enjoy. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it would be beneficial to the girls and help them achieve some success.”
GETTING OVER THE SECTIONAL HUMP
>>The Mt. Vernon girls soccer team won plenty of games in recent seasons but has struggled in postseason play. Season recaps listed with overall and HHC records, plus sectional result:
2013: 12-5, 6-0 HHC*. Lost 5-4 (3-2 PK) to New Palestine in Sectional 23 semifinals.
2012: 11-5-1, 5-2 HHC. Lost 2-1 (OT) to New Palestine in Sectional 23 semifinals.
2011: 12-4-1, 5-2 HHC. Lost 1-0 to Greenfield-Central in Sectional 23 semifinals.
2010: 12-5, 4-3 HHC. Lost 6-1 to New Palestine in Sectional 18 semifinals.
2009: 11-5-1, 5-2 HHC. Lost 2-1 to New Palestine in Sectional 18 quarterfinals.
2008: 9-8-1, 3-4 HHC. Lost 2-1 (3-0 PK) to New Palestine in Sectional 18 semifinals.
*Won program’s first HHC championship.
Note: The Marauders’ lone sectional crown came in 1996.