Fred Schmidt steps down as girls soccer coach at Douglas
Appeal Sports Writer
An era at Douglas High came to an end on Monday when Fred Schmidt retired after 11 seasons as head coach of the school’s girls soccer program.
The dean of girls soccer coaches in Northern Nevada, Schmidt compiled a 152-32-23 overall record to go with two regional tournament and five league championships during his run as head coach at Douglas between 1994 and 2004. He has won more games than any other high school girls soccer coach in the state, according to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) record book.
But even all those achievements take a back seat to what Schmidt regards his dual role as coach and teacher. In fact, he didn’t hesitate an instant when asked about his No. 1 highlight.
“Just in the broad sense, the best highlight I had was seeing so many girls mature and learn how to succeed not just in soccer but in life,” he said. “I always considered myself a teacher first and coach second. I tried to teach the value of working hard to achieve goals, working together as a team to achieve goals, while always maintaining integrity and to do it with good sportsmanship.”
The formula proved to be successful for a program that won Northern 4A championships in 2000 and 2002. The Tigers also had runner-up finishes with one-goal losses in 1994 (in double overtime to Wooster), 1996 (to South Tahoe) and 2001 (to Carson). Furthermore, Douglas played in the regional semifinals 10 times in 11 years.
Schmidt pointed to various reasons for his decision to step down.
“I’m doing this because the time is right,” he said. “I feel bad for some of the kids who are coming back, but the program is in good hands now and there are a lot of good candidates in the community who very capable of replacing me.”
One reason was job-related, since Schmidt left his position as Nevada Consumer Advocate after 12 years in 2000 to work with the Hale Lane law firm. Still, family considerations weighed most heavily in his decision.
“I’m looking forward to having more time with my family,” he said. “The kids are grown and out of the house now, and to take three months out of the year where I can’t do anything except concentrate on soccer, that just started to seem unfair to my family.”
Of course, soccer has been a family affair in the Schmidt household for some time. Daughters Tara and Kali were both three-year varsity players at Douglas and son, Milan, was a starting goalkeeper for the boys team. And there was never a time in the last 11 years when Schmidt didn’t have the help of his wife, Brenda, either as an assistant varsity coach or head J.V. coach.
The team concept that Schmidt expected from his teams carried over to a coaching staff that in recent years has included Brenda Schmidt; Jim Bell, who is also retiring after nine seasons; and Ralph Johnson, who has been with the program for five years.
“This was never a one-man operation,” Schmidt said. “It was always a team effort between Brenda, Jim, Ralph and myself.”
In addition to the triumphs, Douglas has sent numerous players on to the collegiate ranks. For example, three Douglas graduates are expected to play for Division I programs this coming fall – Ashley Sulprizio, who is entering her senior season as a goalkeeper at Cal; Taryn Hadlock at Nevada; and Hannah Sullivan at Liberty in Virginia.
“This coming year, we will have eight or nine kids playing on a college campus somewhere,” Schmidt said. “I’m hoping I can go see some games, too.”
To think it all started in 1993 when Schmidt accepted a job as goalkeeper coach for a program that was then in just its second year.
“Dan Makley (head coach) asked if I would come out and help, then the next year, he asked if I would take over as head coach. I was having so much fun, I decided to stay with it,” Schmidt said.
“It’s been a pretty good run. I just want to thank the school district, they were willing to take a chance on me and give me this opportunity to coach,” he added. “You know, I’ve had 100 different girls play for me over the years and I couldn’t single any one of them out because they’ve all been special to me.”
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