BOYS' PREP SOCCER: North Hardin mourns Klug's death (10/28)

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By Nathaniel Bryan

Veteran North Hardin boys’ soccer coach Jim Stone remembers his first encounter with Duane Klug.

It was the spring of 1996 and Stone, still in his 20s, had been hired by then-North Hardin principal Betsy Glover to coach the Trojans’ soccer team.

Then a cordial man, whom Stone had never met, came to Stone with a job opportunity – for himself.

“Duane approached me with a very neat and concise resume and a very cheerful countenance and asked if I would consider him as an assistant coach for the NHHS junior varsity team,” Stone recalled Tuesday, two days after the 64-year-old Klug died at Louisville’s Jewish Hospital. “Well, being a green 25-year-old and needing the wisdom that this retired Army officer at the age of 46 could provide, I didn’t hesitate in recommending to Ms. Glover the man whom I wanted to serve in the trenches with me and turn around a program.”

Klug not only helped turn around the Trojans’ program, but he was instrumental in getting youth soccer associations established in Radcliff and Vine Grove.

“Duane Klug was the man who not only got youth soccer started in the northern end of Hardin County, but was the driving force in getting soccer into North Hardin High School,” said retired Radcliff Parks & Recreation director Rhonda Witten. “Soccer was his passion, but he was the type of person who could go to a park and see people playing football, soccer, softball, etc., and say, ‘Isn’t this great!’ He was a patient, caring man who was highly respected. Duane Klug was a man whose life made a positive difference because of the way he lived it.”

He also had strong ties to referees as one of the founding members of the area’s soccer officials association.

“As a soccer referee, I will always remember Duane for how he treated the referees with respect,” said Jim Long, the 5th Region assignor for soccer. “He was one of the founders of the Lincoln Trail Soccer Officials Association and that always made him one of us. He would not always agree with our calls, but he would never be disrespectful. The soccer program at North Hardin and the entire community have lost a fantastic, caring coach who mentored hundreds of young men. We will all miss him dearly.”

One area official, Jeff Hall, said referees never had to worry about Klug running his mouth their way.

“His passion for the sport was second to none. He was always positive and I never heard a negative word from Duane,” Hall said. “As a referee, there were times we disagreed, but he always shook our hands and said, ‘Good job’ and ‘Thank you.’ His passing is a great loss to our wonderful sport as coach, referee, mentor and most of all, friend. We enjoyed many laughs over the years, some at my expense. If Duane ever needed anything I would not hesitate to provide what I could.”

Klug’s passing could be felt in Lexington, where the Kentucky High School Athletic Association is headquartered.

“Hate to hear about Coach Klug,” said KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett. “He was one of the early folks registered as a soccer official back in 1980 and he was still working camps for kids the last couple of years. He truly loved the game and the students that played it.”

For current North Hardin coach Terry Linscott, his memories of Klug are even later than Stone’s. Linscott had three sons play for Klug and he played under Klug. When he moved from Fort Knox to Radcliff at age 6 in 1981, Linscott joined a team in the Radcliff Youth Soccer Association, which Klug had established just one year prior.

“Back then, Coach was no different than he was today and each day that I spent with him coaching at North Hardin reminded me of him when I was a kid,” Linscott said. “The love for the game, the love for each player and win or lose, did we put our best foot forward. Some of the terms that always struck me had never changed, such as ‘turn and burn,’ ‘do something good,’ and ‘make it happen.’ These were all statements that I heard from him as a child that in the last five years coaching with him rang loud on the sideline.

“His tenacious desire to see that every player was an equal and that each person was able to develop in the game as well as life was one of his greatest traits,” he added. “He taught me many different things in life — his patience in adversity, his ability to speak his mind with a smile on his face, how to be a friend while still being in leadership and many more.”

In 18 seasons on the North Hardin sideline, Klug was 188-100-50 in junior varsity games. He even led the varsity to the 2001 district tournament title, a 2-1 win over Meade County at Central Hardin after Stone was red carded in the semifinal win and had to sit out the final.

“There are several generations that will always have fond memories of Mr. Klug. His dedication and selfless sacrifice have inspired children to always give their very best. He provided children a helping hand and a bended ear. The cornerstone of North Hardin High School soccer truly lies in his legacy. He poured a lot of himself into that program,” said Hardin County Schools superintendent Nannette Johnston. “Our Hardin County Schools family mourns with the Klug family. We wish comfort and strength to them and the many students that were impacted by Duane Klug’s life. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”

While Stone’s friendship with Klug was made through soccer, Stone respected the type of man Klug was off the field. Klug dabbled in acting and singing – belting out the national anthem before at least one North Hardin home game – he raised chickens and was a gardener. Stone said Klug donated dozens of eggs and hundreds, if not thousands, of cucumbers over the years to anyone who wanted or needed them.

Plus, Stone joked, Klug was able to stay fit while not shying away from the dinner table.

“Whenever we went to dinner after a game, he snarfed more food than most of the boys and certainly ate twice as much as me and often went back for more,” Stone said. “His appetite for food was much like his appetite for life – minus him being overweight and out of shape of course.”

During last week’s 5th Region Boys’ Soccer Tournament at North Hardin, Klug was honored with a moment of silence. Stone said the North Hardin program hopes to do more to honor Klug at a later time.

Visitation is at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Vine Grove’s Coffey & Chism Funeral Home. The memorial service is at 3 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.

“Duane was a calming influence and an encourager for all of us. He was a remarkable man who touched the lives of all he came into contact with,” Stone said. “I will miss my dear friend, but his memories will I never forget.”

Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 270-505-1758 or nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com.