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Boyle boys soccer coach steps away

The offseason of coaching vacancies continues for Boyle County as boys soccer coach Cris McMann retired from coaching after 15 years at the helm of the program.

“I kind of had a feeling earlier in the year. I wanted to get through this season and talk with my wife see if there was someone else interested in doing it,” McMann said about the thought process that went into his decision. “I didn’t want to just leave. I’ve been there a while and I think Boyle County soccer has turned into something — we’re competitive. I didn’t want to just take off without any idea what was going to happen next for them.”

In his first year with the team in 2005, McMann took a team that won eight games the year before and led them to a 21-4 record, a regional championship and the second round of the state tournament.

While that was the best record of his tenure with the Rebels, his most successful season came in 2008 when he led Boyle to a district title, regional title and the semifinals of the state tournament before falling to eventual state champs St. Xavier.

But it’s not the success that McMann will miss most — although he has had plenty of it at Boyle County. The thing that he’ll miss the most is the same reason he decided to step away — the kids. 

“I mean, I’ve been very lucky to work with a lot of neat young men,” he said about his teams. “I’ve only got a few years left in the classroom and really the reason I wanted to retire was because I hadn’t ever taught without also being a coach. I’d like to be able to focus my attention on my second graders and not have to worry about coaching at the same time.”

In his 15 years with Boyle County, coach McMann amassed 192 wins. When asked about retiring so close to the 200 point, McMann laughed and said “What’s the point? It’s no where close to (Boyle’s softball and girls soccer coach) Brian Deem, I can’t ever catch that guy.”

Before McMann took the job at Boyle, he and Deem were actually rivals as McMann was the assistant coach for Danville’s girls team.

McMann said that when he told his team that last season was his final one with the team, they weren’t surprised.

“I think kind of knew. There were rumors,” he said. “Ethan James and Hunter (Baltazar) and Eli (Goggin) — the seniors this year — I think they knew. I told them I’d probably finish up with them. I don’t think anybody was really surprised. Just gave me congratulations.”

That senior class was a special one for McMann, not just because of the performance they gave him on the pitch, but because of the long standing relationships off of it.

“I’ve known Eli since he was a baby. Ethan and Hunter I’d known since middle school,” he said. “I’ve known them for so long that they weren’t just my players — they were part of the family or something. I’m going to remember those guys for a lot more than just soccer. Ethan James and my son Alex are great friends. I’ve known Eli and his family since the day Eli was born. It made it a little hard just because I’ve known them for so long.”

That relationship is something the players echoed.

“Coach McMann is probably one of my biggest role models,” McMann’s final keeper, Ethan James said. “He has pushed me in my 5 years on the soccer team to be not just a great player but an even better man. He has pushed me to my limits and even farther just to show how far I can really go.This works in life too as he would say. I just want to thank him for everything he has done for me and Boyle County soccer. ‘Train and trust.’”

For McMann’s part, he fully expects to miss it as soon as the season starts.

“I’ll be kind of happy until about July and August and then I’ll have to hang out and read books or head to the pool,” he said. “But when those games start I’ll miss it. I’ll go out there and see them. They’ll be good, they’ve got a lot of young guys coming up. That whole group, they’re funny guys. Working with those kids was never boring. They keep you on your toes.”