Where have all those soccer experts gone?

Where have all those soccer experts gone?

Nobody is more vocal than the soccer expert.

In the 20-plus years I have written about sports in the Mining City, I have heard from most of them. They know more about soccer than baseball color commentators know about baseball.

They are experts as to why soccer is the greatest sport in the history of mankind. They can never seem to understand why a sportswriter like myself would fail to see that he should give up writing about silly, boring games like basketball, baseball and football and concentrate full time on soccer.

The lecture always comes down to one sentence: “Soccer is the fastest growing sport in the word.”

That is the kicker. Soccer fans in the United States have been saying that since 1932. If it true in other parts of the world — and mathematics says it is not — it certainly is not true in Butte.

For whatever reason, soccer has just not been our sport. We have turned out some very fine soccer players and coaches, but we never seemed to have enough at the same time.

Like most high school sports, soccer is a numbers game.

I heard the same lecture every time I covered a local soccer tournament. I even heard it a few times at Butte High games. I have had many voicemail lectures, and even more emails.

This lecture has been repeated to me and every other sports reporter in town so many times that you would swear this town is full of soccer coaches.

However, something funny happens all too often with these soccer fanatics. When their son or daughter stops playing the sport, they forget all about it.

So, after hearing their speeches for two decades, I think I finally have my daughter convinced to go out for the Butte High soccer team.

And get this, not one person applied for the job to serve as head coach of the girls’ team. That is right, not one. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Really, not one person has applied for the job that has been open since Riley McNabb told school officials that he was stepping to focus on his education in April.

Both the boys’ and girls’ soccer head coaching positions came open after last season. Erik Roth coached the boys for one season, but he is going to be busy watching his son, Trevyn, play for Colorado Mesa in the fall.

Cody Carpenter accepted the job as head coach of the boys’ team last week. He brings with him three state championships and an All-State selection as a player to the Bulldog program.

He blew away the other candidates who applied for the position. All none of them.

Carpenter was the only person to put in for the job. Yes, the only one.

So, what happened to all these people who loved to lecture me as to why I am letting the sport of soccer down because I fail to write enough stories on the great sport?

Where is the car salesman who tried to get me fired because I did not give the sport enough ink when his daughters played?

Where is the doctor who left me those nasty voicemails?

Apparently, they were not really looking out for the sport of soccer after all. It turns out that they were just looking out for their own kids.

Carpenter knows the sport well, and he offered to mentor any coach who might not feel completely comfortable taking over a varsity program.

That offer made me even think briefly about putting in for the job just so the student-athletes at Butte High have a chance to play. Of course, that would not be advisable since I get paid to cover all the sports teams in Butte.

While I think I would be a great quote if I interviewed myself after a game, a sportswriter cannot — or at least should not — coach of the team he is writing about.

Plus, I really have no experience playing soccer.

What I played the one season I actually participated in the sport should not be called soccer. I was the youngest player on the kindergarten-through-third-grade McKinley/Blaine team.

The team was so bad that it closed down both schools.

My coach told me I was a “fullback,” and I was to stand on one corner of the goalie box the entire game. I could only kick the ball if it came right to me.

The only time the ball ever rolled near me all year, I picked it up. I can still see the look the referee game me when I did that.

The rest of the time I picked at the grass. I was good at that.

One time I was on one knee picking grass when I spotted my dad’s shoes standing right in front of me. I looked up and could not believe my dad had walked onto the field.

“Hey Pard,” my dad said, making a motion to the sideline. “It’s halftime.”

I looked over and all of my teammates were sucking on orange slices. Those were the best part of the game, so I ran to the sideline to get a couple.

That was the only time I was allowed to run all season.

I assume that soccer is a very fun sport to play if the coach actually lets the players run around and sometimes even kick the ball.

Following the Butte High soccer teams since we started ButteSports.com in 2012 has been a blast. I have learned a lot about the sport, though not enough to be a varsity coach

While the Bulldog wins have been few and far between, I have also been lucky enough to watch some very talented players.

Last year, the Bulldog soccer teams turned out three college players. Roth, Ally Cleverly and Marti Ludwick will all receive scholarship money to play soccer.

Those are great opportunities for our local student-athletes. They are opportunities that would not be available if we did not have a coaches dedicating their time for the students and the sport in general.

The Bulldogs began playing soccer in the fall of 1993. So many players and coaches worked hard to bring the sport to Butte High. Other schools in the Class AA started playing two years earlier.

I had at least one friend who probably missed out on a scholarship because Butte High did not offer the sport when we were there. It would be a shame to go back to those days.

Since they cannot find coaches, school officials have even discussed the possibility of eliminating the sport. Luckily, they decided the student-athletes are too important to do that.

So, now is the time for at least one of you soccer fanatics to step up and apply for the job.

Do it for the Bulldogs. Do it for the student-athletes who are being left behind the rest of the girls’ teams in the state.

Do it for the sport you supposedly love.

If nothing else, do it for the orange slices.

— Bill Foley, who interviews himself on a daily basis, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 5 comments

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  • The News Man
    June 4, 2019, 8:15 pm

    First of all bill, these alleged experts are pretty stupid because it’s not the fastest growing sport in the world when it’s already the biggest sport in the world. So when they try to make their argument they already sound like a bunch of wannabes. Actually the fastest growing sport for women at the college level is rugby. The fastest growing sport is lacrosse at the high school level for both genders. so personally I think you need to get up your butt and cover all three Sports you want to be sports editor. sarcasm is included in this wonderful comment and comes free of charge.

  • John Lovell
    June 5, 2019, 10:54 am


    Thank you for bringing attention to soccer, much appreciated. As the Car Salesman, who tried to get you fired, your words, I got on you about not covering the soccer games within the community. Butte Soccer Club was instrumental in promoting and bringing in State Tournaments, which brought over 2000 players into the community from all across the state. This event, brought a lot of money into our local economy. Any event, which in turn bring dollars into our economy, needs coverage.

    Other communities across the state, cover soccer with enthusiasm. Not just because they have to. And as far as parents, who follow soccer to support their kids, great. More power to them. That is a fact of life. Than when a kids changes direction, to other things, the parents migrate to support them. I see it all over the state. This coming weekend in Great Falls, there will be over 2200 players from across Montana, hosting the Montana Youth Soccer State Cup. An event hosted by Butte, until Butte lost the volunteer base to host this event. As far as coaches for Butte High School, I applaud Riley McNabb for stepping up when he did. Getting candidates for that spot is tough, in Butte, because Butte supports other athletic activities. And Butte does not have the numbers as other communities. And with some exceptions, not many, prior coaches did not have promoting the game of soccer as their number one priority. It was just a stepping stone, or source of money to supplement their income.

    So yes, the Car Salesman, who really did not try to get you fired, just tried to get you to do the job which you were hired for, is still involved with soccer. And yes, I still promote and support soccer state wide. And if you ever have a question, please feel free to call. And please, do not just concentrate on the girl athletes, include the boy athletes as well.

    John Lovell
    Montana Youth Soccer

    • Bill Foley@John Lovell
      June 5, 2019, 12:58 pm

      So calling the publisher to tell him I cost the community $1 million because I never covered a tournament nobody ever told me about wasn’t trying to get me fired? It wasn’t trying too get my coworkers fired? Interesting. And that was just one incident in which you attacked a guy who wasn’t in charge of what was covered in the newspaper. I’m glad you still think you know what my job was, what I was hired to do and what my bosses told me to do when I worked at the paper. I can tell you one thing, my job was not to get assignments form pompous car salesmen.
      I’m not sure what your comment about boys and girls is supposed to mean. My column was about the lack of people applying for the girls’ job. The boys’ job had already been filled. You can read the story I wrote about it on this site. I also cover every Butte sport (boys and girls) on this website. That includes the Butte High soccer teams. We cover every one of the boys’ and girls’ games with just as much enthusiasm as we do the football team. But, again, thanks for telling me how to do my job again. Some things never change.

      • John Lovell@Bill Foley
        June 6, 2019, 11:29 am


        A Local Soccer Club, trying to bring in the State Tournaments to Butte, to help Bolster the economy, gets turned down because the paper does not even assign someone to cover the event. Yes, I met with the publisher, and rattled his cage about no coverage, and asked for someone to please cover the events, so future tournaments could be brought to Butte. I never mentioned anyone by name. If his wrath trickled down to you, I guess you were the one who he felt needed to do the job. And you really need to look in the mirror when you call someone pompous.


        • Bill Foley@John Lovell
          June 6, 2019, 11:48 am

          I don’t tell you how to sell cars, John.


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