Coaching the boys: Breathing new life into Menomonie soccer
Building a program into a contender is one of the hardest things to do in sports because it takes time. At Menomonie High School, the Mustangs were without a boys varsity soccer team in 2015 before they hired head coach Meagan Frank. Frank has spent these past two seasons turning the team around and revitalizing the sport in the area from athletes U-8 on up.
“We’re growing and who knows what we can build,” says Mustangs head coach Meagan Frank. “I think that there’s definitely potential for making soccer much, much stronger in this town. So, that’s kind of what I’m invested in trying to do.”
Meagan Frank is the first female head soccer coach for the Menomonie boys team, but she came in with a wealth of knowledge of the sport only few have. Frank played Division I soccer at Colorado College and has been a face of the sport in the area having spent five seasons as the head women’s soccer coach at UW-Stout from 2006-10.
“As a coach if you’ve been in their position they understand you better,” explains Menomonie assistant coach Zach Hanson. “You kind of bring it down to their level and know what they expect out of a coach and what they expect out of the game.”
“I think it’s very important because that experience playing on the field at a high level translates to us as players,” adds Mustangs senior defender Jacob Fenton.
Something that sets Frank apart from most head coaches you see on the sidelines is her coaching style.
“Calm. She doesn’t yell at you. If you make a mistake, keep your head up, try again,” describes Menomonie junior midfielder Liam Schwartz. “We try to be positive on the field because she encourages that.”
“I think she likes to intersperse fun with hard work and I think the guys really draw from that,” adds Mustangs assistant coach Audric Buhr.
It’s positive reinforcement and the players buying into her methods that has this team slowly, but surely transforming into a program that won’t be written off when opponents see them on the schedule.
“We want more immediate gratification in this generation and it’s definitely harder to convince them that what they’re doing is worth it and that their work is going to pay off,” explains Frank. “Already we’re better than we were last year and we have potential to be even better next year and they have to put in the work and continue to go down that track.”
Since Frank was named the team’s head coach, the Menomonie boys soccer team has finished with overall season records of 2-17-0 (2016) and 3-13-2 (2017). While the results don’t show the whole picture, the players have seen the team’s chemistry grow in that time and they’ve become a much cleaner team in terms of penalties. As Frank notes, it’s a collective coaching staff effort.
“This is definitely not just me making things happen for this program and I’m very keenly aware of that and I have an incredible staff who’s so supportive and they’ve come out of the woodworks, out of nowhere and I’m so grateful,” says Frank.
Meagan Frank has been around the game for a long time and while it won’t last forever, she’s not ready to trade off what she’s started with the Mustangs just yet.
“I feel like there’s a lot of people in this community who can benefit from being a part of a positive program like we’re trying to build and starting from the littlest kids all the way up. I’ve tried for a long time to get off a soccer field. I think I’m finally resigning to the fact that nope that’s kind of where I’m going to spend my time,” describes Frank. “So, I think for a while until I know that I’m handing it off to someone who believes in those things and has the same philosophies that I do then that’ll be the time when I know it’s time to go, but it’s not yet. Won’t be for a while.”