By DOUG ZALESKI
Dad and coach. Those two titles sometimes are difficult to balance at the high school level, but Yorktown boys soccer coach Shane Guinn and his sons Braden and Ethan have discovered the formula.
Head coach and sons, combined with a strong nucleus of upperclassmen, have formed a potent concoction that has led to one of the most successful boys soccer seasons in school history.
The dynamic of a father coaching his sons at the high school level sometimes can get messy. Jealousy can creep in from the outside. Parents can become confrontational if they feel their child has been slighted.
But that doesn’t exist at Yorktown. Braden and Ethan have earned their positions on the team and are part of a large group of players who have contributed to the Tigers building a 14-2-1 record and winning last week’s Eastbrook Sectional championship.
Shane said it’s a blessing to be able to coach his two sons (Braden is a senior captain and Ethan is a freshman) and spend extra time with them. And he believes he treats them the same way as he does the other players on the team.
“I expect more out of (Braden) maybe, and it looks like he’ll have an opportunity at the next level,” Shane said. “I hold him more accountable, but I would do that with any other player who is looking to go to the next level.
“Being able to coach him is great, but I don’t look at him any differently than other players. This is a great group of kids and a special bunch of players. I’m blessed to have them all here.”
Shane took over the program in 2017 when Braden was a freshman and has coached him throughout high school. Ethan is a freshman this season and is adapting to having his father as his coach.
Braden said it was awkward at first to play for his dad in high school, but they quickly adjusted to that situation.
“I thought there was a lot more pressure on me, especially being a freshman with him as the coach,” said Braden, an attacking midfielder who is second on the team this year in points (36) and goals (13). “But everyone treated me like just another player on the team. If I performed well, I was like, ‘OK, I showed I belong where I’m at.’ ”
Ethan also feels like his dad treats him the same as other players on the team.
“It’s cool at home because we go over stuff I can improve on, and he helps me out,” Ethan said.
Playing on the same team as Braden is new for Ethan, but he says his brother treats him like any other player. Ethan, an outside/center midfielder, is thankful that the experience of Braden and older brother Jordan has helped him learn to be a better player.
“Being able to see their success, I knew I could do that, too,” Ethan said. “If they did something I didn’t know how to do, I could just ask and they’d tell me.”
The boys will talk with their dad at home on ways to become better, and they’ll even offer suggestions on things the team could do to become better. That conversation usually starts with one of the boys saying, “Hypothetically …”
“They just started going down that road the past month and offering feedback,” Shane said. “It’s probably harder for them to say things in front of the group because I’m their dad and they don’t want to make it seem like they’re getting any kind of (special) treatment.
“But I’m not the smartest guy in any room, so I’m always listening to anybody who has a different perspective than mine.”
So far this season, Shane has made all the right moves. The only two losses the Tigers suffered would have been ties in a non-conference game. But because the Hoosier Heritage Conference doesn’t play to ties, Yorktown fell to Shelbyville and Greenfield-Central in penalty shootouts.
The Tigers have allowed no goals in regular time in six of their past seven games. Two of their three sectional victories came via shutouts.
Yorktown, which has 32 players in the program, expected to have a good season and it hasn’t been disappointed this year. Ten starters returned from last season and senior captains Braden Guinn, Garrett Wilmes, Hudson Bouw and Zac Cooper along with fellow seniors Trey Jones and Chris Green and 11 juniors have provided a strong catalyst.
“I’d say we’ve met expectations,” said Braden, who has had interest from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and Earlham College in Richmond about playing college soccer. “Winning sectional is what we thought we could do, and hopefully we can win the regional this week.
“We’re a very tight group. We have team dinners and bonfires … we’ve just bonded.”
Yorktown will try to extend its season Saturday in the Oak Hill Regional. The first game will match Leo (13-3-1) and Fort Wayne Canterbury (10-4-5) at 10 a.m. Yorktown (14-2-1) will take on Oak Hill (16-1-1) at noon. The two winners will meet for the championship at 7 p.m.
“They play similarly to us,” Shane said of Oak Hill. “They’re attack-minded, play with a lot of pressure, and have a solid record as well.”