As the high school soccer season gets underway, one veteran coach has stepped down.

Meade County’s Dan Shook turned in his whistle after 22 years of coaching, the last 17 as head coach of the Lady Waves.

“There were several factors,” he said. “When I started and I got into coaching I had my mind made up that I would step down once I decided I no longer enjoyed it and I’m really glad it didn’t turn out that way. I know I would have enjoyed coaching this group of girls. This group of seniors I’ve known since the seventh-grade and it would have been nice to coach them. I think this was a good fit. I’m able to leave at the end of a good season and I’m leaving when I still enjoy coaching. All around, it just seemed like a good time.

“It would have been really lousy if it held true what I said all those years ago. What a lousy way to end a career. It was nice to be able to make my decision when things were still going well.”

Shook steps down with a 169-125-22 record. He had 11 seasons of double-digit wins, including six of the last seven years.

“I look back at the record and see some of this has happened and some of that has happened, but some of the games that standout are losses or ties,” he said. “We’ve had some wins that are very meaningful, but some of the games which I proudest of are how we played. I think back to ’09 and ’10 when we lost in the district semifinals to Central Hardin. We lost 3-2 in ’09 in the last few minutes and in ’10 we lost 1-0 in overtime. Those were some very intense games. It was really neat to be able to coach in games like that.

“In ’17 we hadn’t seen E’town for a while and we played them at their place to a 0-0 tie. That was a really neat experience to meet an old district rival. Last year we lost to O-Cath (Owensboro Catholic) 1-0 and when we first started playing them they were cleaning our clock on a regular basis and to come back and have a close game like that showed a lot about this program. Last year we lost a close one to Daviess County (2-1) in the region semifinals and most of that game was up in the air for a long time.

“Those are the games that standout.”

The Lady Waves were 38-14-6 in the last three seasons.

“They tell me that I’ve mellowed as a coach,” Shook said. “I look back how I was in my younger days and I look now at what’s important and I think maybe sometimes I lost sight and put too much emphasis on something that might have been so important at the time, but really isn’t. Soccer is great. I want you to enjoy working hard and everything that goes into it. But at the end of the day very few of the kids I coaches went on to play in college. I want you to enjoy the moment and do everything you can to get there, but I think in my earlier days I lost sight of that and I was a little too intense. Maybe I have mellowed and we were still able to get good results.

“You learn life lessons of commitment, dedication, perseverance, self-discipline and how to win and lose gracefully. If you don’t enjoy it on the high school level, you’re spending way too much time practicing and going to games. If you’re playing for any other reason that enjoyment of the game, you’re wasting your time and shouldn’t do it. Scholarships are for a small, small group of players. I hope I’ve been able to provide the atmosphere that they all could enjoy it.”

The bottom line for Shook is the relationships he is building and has forged throughout the years

“I have a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old and they’re keeping me busy,” he said. “Both of my kids are in youth soccer and taking them to the park and to games I’ve seen two of my former players as youth coaches. I’ve seen former players having their daughters out there playing. I’m seeing that legacy passed on. Seeing former players coaching and their daughters playing, I’ve been able to tough base and talk with all of them and I’ve been able to see them in a different way. And several girls on the team are out there reffing those same games. Keeping up with the women I used to coach has been great for me.

“The relationship side of this has mattered so much the last several years. Building those positive relationships with the girls on the team is really important. We like to cut-up a lot. We’ve eaten a lot of meals together on the road and that’s really important for a team.

“Over the years I’ve had some of my players in my classroom and I’ve been able to develop that relationship further. It’s been a neat experience as a teacher and a coach to get them out on the field. Most of the time it’s been a real good fit in the classroom and on the field.”

Those relationships also include peers.

“Getting to know the coaches throughout the years has been great,” Shook said. “I think coaches used to hang around a little bit longer and I’ve been able to have nice relationships over the years. It’s nice to develop those friendships, even though we may only see each other once a year. In addition, the assistant coaching relationships I’ve been able to form and develop means a lot.

“Last year we had Lorie Craycroft and Casey Dawson and they are great. Coaches can only do so much because when the girls get out on the field, they’re the ones who make the season. Whatever I’ve been able to accomplish has been through them. They take care of business once the whistle blows. I’ve been very fortunate to coach some very good soccer players and been more fortunate to coach some really good girls — character-wise, they’ve been top notch.”

Mike Mathison can be reached at 270-505-1758 or mmathison@thenewsenterprise.com.

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