In It for the Team

 

Written by Teddy Burch in the May 2008 Issue

For Justin Coffelt it is easy to love the game of soccer. As a player and a coach the game has provided him with a lifelong fulfillment.

“It is something that I have been a part of for as long as I can remember,” Coffelt said. “It is just naturally part of my everyday.”

As a freshman, in 1994, attending Edmond Memorial High School, Coffelt was a part of a state championship team. He had a love for the game long before the championship, and held on to this for the years that followed.

His desire to teach and coach, coupled with the opportunity to coach soccer, became reality, and in 2003 he became head soccer coach. He held the position until 2007, and during his tenure, Edmond Memorial never missed the state playoffs.
At the end of the 2007 season, Coffelt was faced with the choice of taking a private job, to better his family, or remain at Memorial. His choice was clear, he had to take the new job opportunity.

Then the letters and phone calls came. Players, coaches and parents began the process of allowing Coffelt to return for one final season, to see his seniors through their final season.

“You build up a tight relationship with these guys. I wanted to see them have one more really good season together. Knowing that I could have something to do with that, the decision to come back really wasn’t that difficult.”

Officially, Coffelt is the trainer this year. Head Coach, Brent Young, who coached under Coffelt, enjoys having him around.

“He has been with this group of guys since they were freshman. This is a really talented group of young men, so to have coach Cuffelt here is just a really good fit,” Young said.

Still, there is something more for Coffelt. While he enjoys teaching the sport, he notices something different about coaching. “Watching them grow-up from freshman to seniors is a big part of it. I see the way these guys act, outside of playing soccer, and they are great kids. It’s truly an honor to be a part of their lives,” Coffelt said.

This year’s team has 12 seniors, similar to the senior laden team that Coffelt played for in 1994. Just as that team had a solid base of experience, this one is much the same. “I would say that this bunch is every bit as good. There are several of the guys who will be playing Division I soccer next year. There really is a lot of talent on this team.”

What about the prospects of not participating in the coaching next season? “Well, I am not going to close the door on that just yet. It would be tough not coming out here everyday and being part of these guys’ lives.”

The Memorial Bulldogs entered the state playoffs ranked number one in the state and number four in the nation.

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