After playing soccer and earning a business administration degree at Northwood, Rocky Monk wanted to start making money right away, so he got a job at Wells Fargo on University Drive.
He moved to financial services company H.D. Vest, and it was there that Monk had his epiphany.
“I was working at a financial firm in Irving, sitting in a cubical with a phone and a computer,” Monk said. “I thought, ‘This isn’t for me, sitting at a desk. I like to be around people and I really enjoy soccer. I’ve played all my life, so how can I do that regularly?’”
After helping Denton boys head coach Scott Heffley end an extended playoff drought as an assistant, Monk has been hired to replace Iseed Khoury as Denton’s girls head coach. Khoury left for Frisco Wakeland.
Monk’s first step toward making his passion into a profession was reconnecting with Khoury, whom Monk had played for on select teams since he was 8 and later competed against during his high school career at Ryan.
He began helping Khoury with the Texas Spirit select team, and Khoury recommended ways to dive into the coaching pool, including obtaining a teacher’s certificate.
“He taught me so much,” Monk said of Khoury. “He knows the game so well. He can make changes so quickly to impact the game. It opened my eyes when I first started coaching.
“He’s a tough coach that demands a lot of his players, and he’s really passionate about the game. I’m hoping I’ve learned enough from him.”
Monk set his sights on getting a coaching job, and an opportunity arose at Denton.
“They asked me to take over boys JV,” Monk said. “I had a great first year. I loved the school, and the administration was always there for me.”
Monk has a rapport with the girls team, as he helped Khoury, and that was one of the reasons athletic coordinator Kevin Atkinson made the move to promote from within.
“The girls are going to be very familiar with him and he helped Sid in the mornings, so he kind of knows their skill level,” Atkinson said. “He’s got high energy and he’s big in player development. At the same time, I think he has a fresh approach that the kids are going to relate to.”
From being a substitute teacher, to a long-term substitute, to the boys JV coach to the boys assistant coach, Monk worked his way up the ranks while passing on job openings because of his affinity for Denton.
With Ryan girls coach Raiford Malone leaving after 20 years of service at the end of last season, Khoury and Heffley asked Monk if he would like to make the move to coach his alma mater.
“I thought Ryan would have been a good opportunity for him because that’s where he graduated from, and that’s why we asked him if he was interested in it, but Denton has sort of a weird hold on you,” Heffley said. “I think a lot of people like the environment and the people they get to work with. He has always had aspirations of being a head coach, but he felt really comfortable here.”
Denton’s boys made their run to the playoffs with several youngsters leading the way. With Monk now coaching the girls, Heffley says there will be a big hole to fill.
“He had a great impact on the boys program, so that’s kind of bittersweet for us. Because as much as we want him to succeed and move on, he’s going to be a big miss for us,” Heffley said. “He has a really good way of relating to the players. He’s developed the JV into the style of play we want to play on the varsity level. He sees things that he thinks can help the program and he doesn’t hesitate to get it going.”
With the boys on the way to re-establishing a soccer culture at Denton, Atkinson said he hopes that promoting Monk will breed more all-around consistency for the school.
“He loves Denton and he loves Denton High School,” Atkinson said. “That meant a lot to me. He wants to see our girls start having some success. I think he’s going to be a great salesman, too. Our [roster] numbers have been down, so I think they will go up with him.”
When Monk was notified Wednesday he would be the next girls head coach, feelings of excitement and relief came over him, but then it hit him that there is much work to be done.
“Now it’s ‘Where do we start?’” Monk said. “I know I have big shoes to fill and there are going to be expectations. We want the girls to get to where they are competing in this tough district again. We want to make sure they are enjoying the team, and if we work hard every day and work on our technical abilities, I think we can compete.”
In the whirlwind of his short coaching career, Monk said he has redefined his happiness since the move from the cubical to the classroom and field.
He’s created a fulfilling life for himself, his wife, Caresse, and his sons, Ryan and Owen.
“There was definitely a time where we were hurting financially and we struggled to pay bills, but I couldn’t be more happy now,” Monk said. “My wife gets to stay at home with the boys and raise them. I get to coach soccer, which I love.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip