A lot has changed about the boy’s soccer program at Braintree’s Archbishop Williams High School in the last five years.
The team has gone from winning only five games and six games a season, to 10, 11, and 14 games a season in the past three years.The team got had a 14-3-3 record this year.
It’s a difference implemented by Head Coach of the Boys Varsity Soccer Brian Mitchell, a three-year soccer starter and 2003 graduate of Stonehill College. Although he’s only been on board with the school since 2007 – coaching the Varsity Girls soccer team for two years before moving to the boys’ team -- already the difference is noticeable.
The Eastern Mass Soccer Coaches’ Association named Mitchell the Coach of the Year for Division 3 this year.
“It is great to see Coach Mitchell be recognized for all the hard work he puts in during the season, said Joseph Francis, Archbishop Williams athletic director, in a release. “He is a tremendous asset to our athletic program.”
Mitchell himself was surprised at the recognition, which usually goes to the coach that advances the furthest in the tournament round.
Although his team got knocked out in the quarterfinals, the successful season and overall turnaround of the program is of note.
“The players deserve all the credit for this amazing recognition from my peers,” Mitchell said. “Their consistent hard work and dedication, both on and off the field, put us in a position to be successful on a daily basis.”
Overall, success has come from the effort to get quality athletes into the soccer program.
“Sometimes with smaller division 3 schools it’s difficult to get 11 soccer players that play soccer year round. Archbishop is a great hockey school…and it’s getting those players into the soccer program, and not just playing hockey or lacrosse,” he said.
The success of the team has meant more and more students are jumping on board in recent years.
“After having a couple [of good years], you’re getting 13, 14, 15 quality athletes on the team,” Mitchell said.
Although the students have much to do with the overall success of the team, having Mitchell on board has been motivational.
The 30-year old says he has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the game, especially after playing at Stonehill and also after playing for nationally ranked St Johns Shrewsbury for four years in High School.
Coaching the girls soccer team also provided new insight into the game.
“I started coaching JV girls, it’s a different experience I grew up with three younger brothers, and went to an all boys high school. Teaching girls is a whole new philosophy of teaching,” he said.
All of that background has helped Mitchell create the team that exists now, of 18, 14-18-year-old kids all ready and willing to do what it takes to win.
More importantly, however, the kids know how to have fun while doing it.
“It’s a game. They want to have fun. You need to be competitive, and the goal at the varsity level is to win games, but you need to have fun, and they need to take something out of it,” Mitchell said. “It’s so 10-20 years down the road, they can gave a fond memory of high school soccer, and that’s what I think I’ve been able to provide for them.”