Opinion

Kyle Troutman: No dizzy moo cows here

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Through my pre-teen and teenage years, I had a handful of different soccer coaches depending on where I was playing at the time, and each left their own impact.

My first long-time coach was name Geoff Thompson, a Brit and a die hard Newcastle United fan. He was the first to truly instill in me how hard you have to work to be good at something, how taking days off sets you back and how the reward is worth the effort.

Being about 11 or 12 when I started playing for him, Coach Thompson also provided many moments of international levity. I will never forget how he got into it with a referee over a call, ultimately settling the disagreement then muttering, “You dizzy moo cow,” as he walked away.

Thompson was my club coach for many years and one of the biggest outside-the-home impacts on my life. When I was 14, he actually cut me from his team and I had to refocus and get back into the higher levels of play.

I took a year of playing with a recreational team, then rejoined my old team under a new coach, Hunter Bridges. Coach Bridges was less exciting with the accented quotes, but he was youthful and also coached at a local high school.

His energy and enthusiasm was something our team lived for, and we outplayed expectations because of our chemistry and unity.

In high school, coach Matt Mittelstaedt was a jokester, but expectations were higher than any other coach had set as far as fitness and skill. He also had a mind for tactics and should be greatly credited for our team’s run to the state championship my senior year.

In college, the expectations under coach Justin Hawkins rose even higher, and the results – a No. 7 finish at the national championship tournament — proved their value. Hawkins took a bunch of Arkansas boys not known for their soccer skill and gave the NCCAA a show that season.

One of the joys of covering sports over the last year is seeing all our local coaches and the impact they have on youth in the community. Outside of parents, a teacher or a coach is usually a child’s next most-trusted adult figure.

One of the most dedicated of those is Monett’s Charles LaGarce, longtime swim coach with the Monett WaterThrashers and the Monett high school teams.

I frequently hear stories about how LaGarce has given children the confidence to do something they did not think they could do, pushed them to be the greatest they could be, then to push further. One of his athletes, former Pierce City resident Raylea Ledbetter, is featured in today’s paper outlining LaGarce’s impact on her from the age of 7.

LaGarce is now battling stage 4 prostate cancer and welcomes back the kind of encouragement he has given over those years.

From swimming to football, wrestling to soccer, local athletes have no shortage of role models to look up to. One of the biggest role models in the county, Cassville football coach Lance Parnell, announced this week he is hanging up his head coaching hat.

There has not been a season in the last eight that Parnell hasn’t told me the goal of his program is to “mold young men into better citizens, employees, husbands and fathers.” His impact will be felt for a long time in the Barry County area.

High expectations can also come with some disappointments and adversity. Another coach, Monett boys wrestling’s Ben Hohensee, is dealing with some of that this year with low numbers and absent a state champion from earlier this year. LaGarce’s boys swim team also has a less-than-perfect performance at state recently, what the coach said is a learning experience that will better his team next fall.

As many coaches have said, and more will say, it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up.

There is not enough space here to name all the local coaches and their impacts, but over the past 11 months, I have seen countless examples of kids improving not only on the courts, fields and pools, but also improving personally through learning teamwork, leadership, compassion and responsibility.

This is true not only through sports, but through other academic extracurricular activities, from band to theatre and speech and debate to FFA and more.

Being involved in something outside of class is one of the best things for a child, especially in smaller towns.

There is no shortage of activities for youth to participate in and also no shortage of role models to guide them as they grow.

The only shortage we have here was described by Coach Thompson so many years ago. No dizzy moo cows here.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or editor@monett-times.com.

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