North Carroll second-year coach Denny Snyder reflects on what he had in front of him at the start of last season when he replaced his former coach Ed Powelson, who had guided the Panthers the previous 34 years.
"I take a look back and remember going into the season not knowing what to expect. I knew I couldn't replace him and the impact he's had on the North Carroll community and myself. You just have to be your own person and create your own style," he said.
This season, it's Ed DeVincent's turn to take over a program at Liberty that was enriched by his former coach, Lee Kestler, for the previous 13 years. Not surprisingly, DeVincent is taking much the same approach.
"What can you say, the guy was a legend. Up to this year, he was Liberty soccer. Playing for him, you learned about the game and also about life," the 1986 Liberty grad said. "Work ethic and discipline were two of the biggest things he put into his players. I'll start with that and try to bring a few of my own things to put some extra life into the team."
The 27-year-old DeVincent, a social studies teacher at Liberty High the past four years, has spent the previous five seasons alongside Kestler as the Lions junior varsity coach. Coaching the game he's played since age 6 has come naturally.
"I've always felt if you love the game, you should love to teach the game," he said. "Between high school, college and club ball, I've played a lot of soccer and just wanted to help teach kids."
DeVincent played two-plus seasons of varsity as a forward for Kestler before playing some at the University of Maryland. When he was younger, he played for Kestler in the Our Lady of Victory rec program out of Baltimore City.
"He came from where I came from," said Kestler. "And talk about work rate, that's what he brought," Kestler said. "He takes the same work ethic to coaching and has a good knowledge of the game."
As a coach, that's exactly what DeVincent will expect from his players.
"On Day One, I talked to my players and all I asked of them was to try to become a little better with every practice and become better as a team with every game," DeVincent said. "That goes back to the work ethic coach Kestler instilled in me when I played. Give 110 percent and the coach can't ask for anything more."
The average years of coaching experience between the five public schools in Carroll has decreased significantly with the departures of Powelson and Kestler, who combined to coach a total of 47 years of varsity soccer in the county. G. Hibberd, entering his 15th season at Francis Scott Key, is now the senior member of the coaching corps in Carroll.
DeVincent said it's impossible to replace experience, but his objective is to find other ways to set an example.
"During practice, I like to be out there running right with them. If they see me working hard, it will make them want to work that much harder," he said.
Snyder made out pretty well in his first season as head coach a year ago, leading the Panthers to a 6-5-2 mark to earn Carroll Coach of the Year honors.
"You look back at the season and we lost to Westminster early on, but came back to beat them in the last game of the season," Snyder said. "It was rewarding to see how much we grew through the season -- that's what it's all about."
So now it's DeVincent's turn. Having coached the junior varsity program, he has a good head start knowing the program and players. His goals for this season are simple.
"We're looking to be competitive in every game," he said. "If we can stay close with 10 to 15 minutes left, we'll have a chance to win. All you can ask for is to have an opportunity to win it."
Spoken like a true veteran.
Pub Date: 8/30/96