By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
WASHINGTON — The Washington High School soccer program is full of tradition and one such tradition is revisited each July to the delight of the entire program.
The alumni of the Hatchet soccer program as well as current players, parents and friends will come together Saturday afternoon for the ninth annual WHS soccer alumni game.
Kevin Myers, the former Hatchet coach essentially started boys soccer in Washington and become the coach in 1992 for Washington’s first full season, wanted to reinstate a sense of family throughout the program, which existed when Myers was just getting started more than 20 years ago.
“We were promoting a soccer family is the way we started out with it, because we didn’t have much support in the early years,” Myers said. “This was one way we made it last longer than just your high school career. Now they’re still coming back, I think one of the guys coming is off the original team and another player who’s freshman year was our second or third year.”
Myers retired from coaching after the 2010 season, and his son, Quintin, has taken over the coaching position with the high school team, and will be on the field with his fellow alumni. Quintin said the chance to get back on the field with some of his former teammates is not something he takes for granted.
“It’s awesome,” Quintin Myers said. “As I’ve told these guys now that I’m coaching them ¬ there’s no better feeling than playing for your high school, and now that I get to coach, it’s part of just giving back and making it the best for them. Playing collegiately is not the same as playing for your school.”
With many of the players getting into town tonight, and the alumni game festivities most of the day Saturday, Quintin said the thrill is getting a chance to talk and catch up with people that are a part of the Washington family.
A big part of that family demeanor is how the girls’ soccer program has been included and that has added to the excitement of the weekend. Monty Critchlow, who served as the girls’ inaugural coach from 1993-2005 will serve as a referee Saturday.
“Our involvement really started with Kevin Myers,” Critchlow said. “He (Myers) had their side and we had ours, but a lot of the players want to see their classmates, so he carved out a spot for us in the middle of his program ¬ it’s worked out well for us.”
Critchlow said as a former coach it’s great to see all the girls he used to coach, and especially the ones that may have moved further away, to see how they have turned out and matured as adults since their playing days.
“A lot of these kids, if you get outside their class and maybe knowing someone by name, they get a chance to step on the field together,” Critchlow said. “A lot of these girls are physical fitness freaks. They are doing long distance running ¬they are probably in better shape than when they were playing.”
The day will start with the men’s alumni game, followed by the women’s and girls’ alumni game. The night will conclude with the winner of the men’s game matching up against the 2013 WHS boys team. The final game is something of a prideful exercise for the alumni. The alumni have never lost to the boys team, and Quintin Myers made it clear they won¹t go down easily.
“I’ve already heard it from (incoming senior) Austin Ghirardelli that this is going to be the year for the first loss for the alumni,” Quintin Myers said. “They hear all our stories of our highlights, so we just want to remind them of the quality of teams that we’ve had in the past and let them know they have a lot of work to do.”
With the positive reception that everyone involved has received over the past eight alumni games, Quintin Myers said he¹s hopeful to keep the tradition going as long as they can. Kevin Myers said 35 have signed up in advance, but they usually have at least 10 show up without getting in contact. Quintin Myers is now putting it on a Facebook site to keep in touch with former players.
“As long as we can keep drawing a crowd,” Quintin Myers said. “Everyone gets a jersey and at the end of the game everyone gets a Hatchet soccer alumni shirt for that year. We try to keep everyone wearing the gear wherever they live.”