Daniel Lundy has been in this situation before.
Before spending six years at Cleburne — three as the boys soccer coach — Lundy spent four seasons as the head soccer coach at Class 3A Gainesville, which played in a Class 4A district because of the UIL not having a 3A classification for soccer.
But he’s never stepped into a situation like the one he is entering now, taking over for Marc Koke as the Argyle boys soccer coach and returning to his roots of coaching a smaller school in a pond full of big fish.
The situation is similar because of size, but when he started at Gainesville, the Leopards were coming off an 0-16 season and had to play in a district with state powerhouse Wichita Falls Rider.
This situation is different though, as Argyle is two years removed from being one win away from reaching the Class 4A state tournament.
“These kids are already there,” Lundy said of his new team. “I don’t have to get their minds around that. They know they can beat teams they’re not supposed to beat. You don’t have to motivate the kids when you can play that underdog card. They know people aren’t picking them to win.”
In his four seasons at Gainesville, Lundy’s team had three second-place finishes in district play and won a district title, ending Rider’s 18-year run of district championships.
Argyle finished the 2012 season with a 9-11-8 mark after marching all the way to the regional final in 2011. The Eagles finished fourth in their district but still went three rounds deep after dramatic wins in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
They did all of that without one of their young stars, Ian Sadler, who was expected to play soccer but injured his knee in the state football final in December.
Lundy said he hasn’t had a chance to sit down and talk with Sadler, who is an elite prospect in both football and soccer, but thinks he will be back on the soccer field for the 2013 season.
“To the credit of the team last year, they lost Sadler and they still made the playoffs, and then you can add that piece back in and be that much better,” Lundy said. “Thankfully he’s young and he has a couple more years.”
Argyle’s 2011 squad began to catch Lundy’s eye when he was at Cleburne.
“When they started doing well a couple of years ago and made the run to the regional final, I started following them and kids like Ian Sadler and Cole Hedlund to see what they were doing,” Lundy said. “They’re close enough to the metroplex that they’re exposed to a lot of club soccer at a young age. It was just neat to see a smaller 3A school competing against some of those bigger teams.”
It didn’t take long for Lundy to catch Argyle football coach and athletic director Todd Rodgers’ eye after Koke submitted his resignation to accept a position as a middle school coordinator with Northwest ISD.
Rodgers was searching for not only a head soccer coach, but also a defensive line coach for football — the two positions Koke filled — and a teacher certified to teach social studies and geography, which is what Koke taught.
Lundy and three other applicants fit the criteria.
“I was very fortunate to find that,” Rodgers said. “I was basically searching for the coaching unicorn and it ended up falling in my lap. I really believe I found the perfect match.”
Lundy coached boys soccer and was the defensive line coach at all three of his previous stops: Cleburne, Gainesville and Borger, his alma mater.
“I am a soccer coach who happens to be a very good football coach because growing up in the Panhandle we didn’t have high school soccer,” Lundy said. “We played club until about [age] 17. They didn’t have high school soccer in Borger until 1996. I grew up playing football for the school because that’s what I could do, and I’m passionate about it.”
Rodgers said he set up the soccer job specifically to be aligned with an assistant football post to encourage the sharing of athletes — such as Hedlund and Sadler.
“That position is connected because that’s the way I like it,” Rodgers said. “I don’t want programs to be independent and isolated, because that leans toward kids being single-sport athletes. I want our kids overly exposed to as many experiences as they can have.”
Lundy shares that thought.
“I’m back in a place with some crossover athletes like Sadler,” Lundy said. “You get some of those guys, and I think winning leads to winning. Yes, there’s something to be said for today’s game of specializing, but it saddens me with the [soccer] academies not letting kids play for their school. It’s neat to have some crossover athletes, and they win in every sport. That’s just how it is here.”
Koke began at Argyle coaching the boys and girls teams for one season before Argyle hired Jennifer Goodpaster to take over the girls program, allowing Koke to concentrate on the boys. The next season, Argyle was in the regional final.
“Coach Koke came in and listened and we had to focus on the positives and not the win column,” Rodgers said of the early years. “We had a couple of tough years as far as wins and losses and then the kids grew up and we had that explosion on the playoff scene, and that was a tribute to growing the program. He was able to take a plan and implement it, and it worked out well for us. He left us on very good terms.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .