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Boyle fills its last coaching vacancy

When Boyle County boys soccer coach Chris McMann announced he was retiring to focus on teaching for the remaining years of his contract, he said that he didn’t want to leave the team without someone to replace him and that he had someone in mind.

That man was former Centre College assistant coach and player and current Centre strength and conditioning coach, Jeremy Carlson.

“I would like to think I was. I’ve had a good relationship with coach McMann since I was a player at Centre,” Carlson said. “We’ve always known each other in passing and then we got to know each other even better when I was an assistant coach at Centre’s soccer program. I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the families through club soccer.

Carlson fills the last of five head coaching vacancies the Rebels have had to fill this school year and he’s setting his sights to assure they won’t have to worry about filling this one for some time.

“My biggest expectation is to start the lay the groundwork for the next 15 years,” he said. “Coach McMann was there for that long and he’s done a great job with building up the program. I’d like to mention — we are a very young club right now. We’ve got a lot of good, young pieces and hopefully we can put into place a cultural identity for we want to identify as Boyle County soccer. They may not go straight to wins and losses in that first year. 

“I hope that it does, right? You don’t go into a sport and not want to win,” he continued. “I want to make sure we’re very clear on that — I want to win. But there are small pieces that we can take care of this year that can lay the foundation to go forward for the next two, three… hopefully a decade.”

Carlson’s soccer background is extensive. Growing up in Seattle, he landed in a hotbed of youth soccer talent in clubs in the area. 

“My mom was a basketball player, my dad was a baseball player and they had no idea what soccer was,” he said. “But they saw that I loved it and got me involved with the club program at around 10 years old. I was very fortunate that my parents blindly threw me into it and I had a good youth coach. I was fortunate that I got to play with some really good players — players that most of the soccer community knows. My soccer background — I was very fortunate to be at the right place at the right time.”

His journey to Centre College was equally fortuitous. He had no thoughts of going anywhere outside of the Pacific Northwest but took a trip with his dad to look at colleges out east. It was there that he found and fell in love with Centre.

“I had a very fortunate, good four years at Centre,” he said. “I was able to play in a lot of games and start from a very early time and do a lot of growing up I wouldn’t have been able to experience if I stayed close to home.”
In the summers, he’d return to his hometown and was a part of the Seattle Sounders youth league team and played against them on a lower level team as well. Through that, he was able to play with and against MLS players which helped him develop as a player.

He returned to Centre as an assistant where he was able to develop more as a coach and see what goes into building a culture — which he wants to bring to Boyle now.

“Everyone kind of knows — coach Burch’s record speaks for itself — Centre’s always had a good program and this year is culminated in a Final Four run,” he said. “That speaks to the cultural thing that I’m trying to bring about at Boyle — coach Burch has had that good culture develop for the last decade and some change.”

While Carlson thinks that his background — and some of the names he can drop — will help in establishing himself as a legitimate coach, but ultimately he knows that the most important part of that relationship will just be forging bonds with the players.

“What I hope we can do and that the kids can see quickly is that I care for them,” he said. “The biggest thing I remember from my coaches isn’t the tactics but it’s very much that they care for me and that they were willing to go above and beyond to help me get to where I wanted to be. Be that my club coaches get to college soccer or coach Burch helping me in my first year as an assistant. That’s what I think will help build that trust more than anything is just the understanding that I am here for them and that I want them to achieve whatever their next step is.

“For some of those guys — we’ve got some guys playing for very good club teams — some of their aspirations might be to go on and play college soccer,” he added. “Others, this may be their final destination and high school soccer is where it ends for them. No matter what level they’re at or where their aspirations lie, making sure they know we care for them and are going to help them advance as far as they can during their time at Boyle County.”

Carlson already has a relationship with some of the players on Boyle’s roster through his time coaching them as middle schoolers in club soccer. His relationship with coach McMann came through his time spent at Centre. As a player and a coach he’d often attend Boyle games — more so as a coach on recruiting trips. McMann was also involved in Centre soccer camps, and the two met through there and hit it off. 

Carlson credits soccer for giving him a way to get more ingrained in the Boyle County community.

“It’s always been a goal of my wife and mine to get involved with our community,” he said. “It wasn’t something we wanted to force, we wanted it to happen naturally and soccer was an inlet for me.”

Next year, fans can expect a different look to Boyle’s soccer program — McMann primarily played with a three-back set and Carlson is a four-back proponent. 

“We’ll be doing it a bit of tinkering. I think for the kids, it’s exciting because it gives them a fresh, new look,” he said. “I don’t walk into this job with any biases. I walk in with a fresh set of eyes and hopefully that fresh set of eyes will be able to bring out the best in the kids we have.”

But the biggest difference might be one that the fans never see.

“The biggest thing we’re going to get into place is strength and conditioning stuff,” he said. “Right now, I’m the head strength and conditioning coach at Centre College. I believe that it’s a big foundational part that a lot of soccer players and teams are missing. Hopefully, I’m able to give them the confidence to walk on the field that they’re in better shape, bigger, stronger and faster than they were last year.”

No matter what happens, Boyle soccer fans can rest easy knowing they’ve got the right guy in place.