Tom Shook is back in the game.
Shook coached soccer for 20 years at Maumee before deciding to leave the sidelines back in 2000. He has returned this fall to Anthony Wayne, refreshed and with a renewed spirit.
I ve been reborn this year, Shook said. It s like being a brand new coach all over again.
Early results show Shook and the Generals seem quite right for each other.
AW has played well from the beginning of the season. The Generals are ranked No. 7 in Ohio among Division I schools. They are 9-2-1 overall and are 5-1 in the Northern Lakes League after suffering their first league loss Tuesday in a 3-1 setback to Northview.
The Generals can still assure themselves of a share of the league title by winning their final NLL match against Bowling Green.
It s awesome to be part of this program, said Tom Mangotic, a senior midfielder and co-captain. Last year I don t even know if people at school knew we had a soccer program. It seems like now we re getting a lot of recognition.
It didn t take long for Shook to realize what kind of group he was working with. From the first meetings back in July he understood he had a group of talented players.
The Generals fell 2-0 early in the season to Gahanna Lincoln, which is currently one spot behind AW in the state rankings. Anthony Wayne s only tie was a 1-1 match against St. Francis.
The team is a veteran group with eight returning starters, five of them seniors.
This is one of the most talented teams I ve ever coached from the first player down to the last player, he said.
It s been a team effort all season.
Brandon Bucher, a junior, leads the Generals in scoring with 11 goals and nine assists. Mangotic has produced five goals and eight assists.
Tim Green, a junior, has also been productive around opposing nets, producing seven goals and recording one assist.
Defensively, junior goalie Matt Muntz has been the major catalyst for a stifling unit. He s allowed an average of 0.83 goals per game. The Generals have posted five shutouts.
I think these boys are very hungry to win, Shook said.
Morgan Price, a senior defender and co-captain, credits Shook with creating a new winning environment.
This year we re heads-up and ready to go as far as we need to go, Price said. We have good leadership with the seniors and upperclassmen and we have good team chemistry this year.
I think [Shook] has had a huge effect on what we re doing right now.
He tells us all the time, he won t let us get down on ourselves like we did at times last year. He s brought a new vitality to us this year.
Shook took the Generals through a rigorous conditioning program before the season to help them get in top-notch physical shape. He s also been successful in keeping them mentally sharp during the season.
He has a different inspirational story for us before every game, Price said. I don t know where he gets them, but they seem to get us up before every game.
It s always something about it s possible to overcome any obstacles.
It s opened up a whole new level of play in my mind and for the team in general.
Shook s presence at AW nearly didn t happen because he had not intended to return to coaching this season.
I was tired and ready to get out of coaching when I quit, Shook recalls. When this job popped up with Anthony Wayne, it was such a great job, considering the kids and the community, that I actually decided to return to coaching a year earlier than I had planned on.
It was a great situation that I just couldn t pass on.
During Shook s tenure at Maumee, the Panthers reached six district championships and won three times, advancing to the regional final once.
But the Panthers had only one NLL title during his 20 seasons. Now, in his second go-round in the league, his new team could win the crown in his first season.
That s something the AW players are also aiming for.
Winning the league championship is something we ve always strived for, Price said. It s been something that has always eluded us. It would be a huge accomplishment.
Contact Donald Emmons at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6302.