By Rob Kiser
When Danny Henry and Ryan Klopp stepped down as Piqua boys soccer varsity coach and assistant coach after last season, it was not the end of their support of the Indians program.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
While both have young children which factored into their decision, finding the place where they could benefit the high school program the most also factored in.
Which is why they have started a select program this year, for which tryouts were recently completed. Piqua SC United will compete in the Miami Valley Youth Soccer Association and Buckeye Premier Youth Soccer League.
“What we noticed (as high school coaches) was there a gap. We used to have five or six guys (from each class) with select soccer experience and it had gotten to where it was 2 0r 3,” Henry said. “The goal is to get it to at least six kids and eventually get it to as many as 16 kids (in each grade).”
It also will help those who play select to play for a Piqua team.
“Right now, the ones who do are going somewhere else to play (select),” Klopp said. “Now, they will have a team here from Piqua. To compete against teams who have a plethora of players who have played select, we need to develop players. It is not that we don’t get talented players. But, we talented players who haven’t played soccer before or haven’t played in five years.”
And their experience at the high school level showed them what was needed.
“I am not saying you can’t be successful when you have to teach kids the fundamentals at the high school level, but it is certainly more difficult,” Henry said. “I am from Piqua and played for Piqua, so this program is something that is important to me.”
This year, they will have a U13 team, with plans for a U11 and U9 team in the future.
“The plan is for us to coach the U13 team the next two years,” Klopp said. “When we are going out the door, we told Flo (new boys soccer coach Flo Loisy) work with the guys you have now and we will help develop these guys for you.”
And who better to do that than Henry and Klopp.
“I have 20 years of coaching experience and he has 26,” Henry said. “My strengths are his weaknesses in a lot of cases and vice versa. So, that is kind of how we are approaching this thing. We will coach the U13 for two years, then we plan to go down and coach U9 all the way through. We will have six years with them, which is exciting.”
For both it is all about the kids.
“No one has more heart than the Piqua kids we have coached,” Klopp said. “It just came down to where, because of our lack of depth, we lost by a goal or two. We have had some very successful players like the Grady Stewarts , Bradley Hohlbeins and Caleb Vallieus. But, for every one of those, there are 10 guys who have played their hearts out as well.”
And their goal is clear.
“You see some of the same teams playing at the state tournament every year,” both said. “Why can’t Piqua win a GWOC North title, why can’t Piqua play in the regional tournament or win a state championship.”
And they hope to take some of those dreams and turn them into a reality.