MOUNDSVILLE — Justin Kropka stepped foot on the turf at Monarch Stadium Monday to start his tenure as John Marshall’s head soccer coach with a myriad of feelings and emotions.
Principally, nevertheless, the previous Harrison Central head coach was coping with anxiousness.
However, it was nothing out of the odd for the veteran coach, who most lately spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Wheeling College.
“The extra skilled you change into (in teaching), the sensation of pleasure shifts to being anxious,” Kropka admitted.
The anxiousness stems from the traditional issues that coaches take care of as a brand new season approaches. Issues like preparation time and roster standing are among the many large facets. For a coach who’s at a brand new place, in a brand new state, issues like adjusting to new guidelines, new opponents and the like are additionally weighing on the thoughts.
“For me, it’s simply anxiousness that stems from questioning how issues will play out,” Kropka admitted. “When you’ve coached for thus lengthy, you begin seeing all the things dangerous factor that could be coming 10 miles down the street.”
One factor Kropka has realized, nevertheless, is to benefit from the alternative that he has a bit bit extra. He admitted he didn’t do this nicely in any respect throughout his time with the Huskies, however he re-learned that when he was working with the Cardinals.
“My time at Wheeling re-lit my fireplace,” Kropka mentioned. “I spotted how a lot I loved teaching youngsters.”
And by youngsters, Kropka absolutely means at the highschool degree. Kropka, who’s a Martins Ferry product and spent a number of years working below Dave Bruney, referred to as teaching on the faculty degree a each day coaches clinic due to the quantity of data he soaked in.
Nonetheless, the relationships between coaches and gamers are considerably completely different at that degree as a result of the gamers are adults.
“The connection between a highschool soccer participant and his coach is one thing particular and it’s one thing you’ll be able to’t discover in every single place,” Kropka mentioned. “I’m not positive there’s that sort of player-coach relationship at some other degree of soccer.”
Kropka has a big roster of gamers to formulate relationships with. The Monarchs had greater than 60 gamers on the roster, however that features “an unlimited” freshman class.
John Marshall is coming off a 5-4 season that — like all different faculties — was affected by COVID-19. The transition course of was additionally slowed by that as a result of low season weight lifting couldn’t start till February.
On prime of the transition with the gamers, Kropka is mainly working with a completely new teaching employees. The one assistant he has hung out teaching with is former Martins Ferry and Wheeling College assistant Dirk Fitch.
“We’re really taking a look at this season as 12 months zero greater than 12 months one,” Kropka mentioned. “We wish to get the muse in place and from what I’ve seen so removed from the work ethic of those youngsters, we’ve obtained a spot to begin. I do know there are higher coaches than me so far as teaching a crew, however I like to contemplate myself as one of many higher (coaches) at constructing a program. And that’s form of the place my focus has been.”
The Monarchs open the season on Aug. 27 at College. Aside from Weir and Oak Glen and scrimmaging Wheeling Park, Kropka has no prior teaching expertise in opposition to anybody on the Monarchs’ slate.
“A number of the (faculties), I’m nonetheless making an attempt to Google them and discover the place they’re,” Kropka joked.