Watching the program flourish into a perennial state power under his tutelage, Archbold boys soccer coach Sean Stewart officially gave up the reins when he announced he was resigning from his post at the end of last month.
His impact on the program is not lost on anyone.
“Coach Stewart did a tremendous job during his time as our head coach. He will be missed,” said athletic director Allan Gladieux, who picked Stewart to lead the program years ago.
Stewart, the first and only coach in program history, brought it up to the varsity level in 2010. They have never experienced a losing season.
“The early years were certainly a learning experience, but we were lucky to have real talent from a robust youth system early on,” said Stewart. “Even in our first season, we were above .500, and our second season, I believe we went 13-3. By season three, we went 16-0-0 in the regular season and went on to regionals. It was really something to see the program go from an unknown to a legitimate contender in a relatively short amount of time.”
Stewart has been blessed with a bevy of players who were self-motivated, making his and the other coaches’ jobs much easier.
“Honestly, it’s the mentality and character of the boys I’ve had the pleasure to coach,” he said as to what has enabled the continued success of the program. “As a coaching staff, our biggest ask every year was that players take responsibility for their effort and mentality. What they got out of every training session and every game was directly linked to what they put into it. On top of that, we’ve had fantastic leadership within our squads. Every year, there are players stepping up to get others motivated, lead summer workouts, etc.”
The Blue Streaks have been the class of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League under Stewart’s watch, winning or sharing a total of six league titles. That includes a run of five straight from 2015-19. In addition, they have also claimed four Division III district titles.
But their biggest accomplishment happened in the fall of 2018, when they won the state championship. It came three years after making it to the final four in 2015.
The Streaks finished 22-1 on the year, capping it off with a 2-1 win over Dayton Christian in the state final.
“I think what is most special about the state championship is how it was a culmination of all the prior years,” said Stewart. “There were so many alumni at that game (or texting and calling me). The 2018 squad was certainly a special one, but all the squads over the years had a hand in getting us to that point. That title belonged to all of them. In terms of that actual squad, it was just extremely satisfying to see a group that was 100 percent bought-in to the way we had set our team up to play that year, and to be so relentless on the pitch. It was amazing to just sit back on the sidelines at times and watch them do their thing.”
Now that he has finished his illustrious coaching career, Stewart can reflect on the many good times shared with his players and coaches.
“Obviously, a lot of the best memories aren’t necessarily the games,” he said. “There was a lot of fun to be had over the years on the training pitch, on the bus. There are certain games, goals and saves that really stick out as well. A couple last-second game-winners, huge penalty-kick saves, overtime victories, coming back from 1-0 down at halftime to win the 2015 regional final (over Columbia) and advance to state….just so many fond memories over 10 years.”
He will now look forward to making new memories with his two young sons, ages 5 and 7.
“They’re getting into their own sports and other activities. It’s important for me to be able to be there for everything that I can,” said Stewart of wanting to spend more time with his family. “That said, the decision was extremely difficult. Getting to coach this team has been such a fun and rewarding experience. I’m thankful I was able to do it for as long as I did.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010