For Northwest High School alum Sam Strader, the time is now, and what better way to start his head coaching career than at his alma mater?
Strader, who has been an assistant coach for the boys soccer team, gets his first chance to be a head coach as he leads the Texans next season.
“He worked hard and put himself in a position to move up,” Northwest ISD athletic director Susan Elza said. “He brings a ton of character and leadership to the program.”
Strader replaces Brent Beeson at the helm and knows he's ready for the challenge.
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“I was ready to give it a shot. When you're an assistant, you do something differently, make different decisions than someone else,” Strader said. “I'm ready for the opportunity to step up and be a head coach. I'm just grateful and excited about the opportunities going forward.”
Strader states that his coaching style won't change much as he takes over the head coaching job, but he does like to concentrate more on the boys' training so when it comes to game time, the team will be ready to compete at a high level.
For those reasons, Elza said, Strader was the top preference out of many applicants due to his devotion to the program and to the school.
Strader didn't play soccer in high school, but was a standout in basketball and cross-country. When Strader graduated from NHS, he went to Europe, where he went on mission trips for his church and taught English classes overseas. That's where he fell in love with the game of soccer.
Strader, who received a bachelor's degree in kinesiology from the University of North Texas, has been attending soccer training to further his knowledge of the sport.
“The Texans needed help and an assistant volleyball coach, but I told them instead of being in a sport I didn't know, why not help in soccer,” Strader said. “So the remaining part of the 2011 season, Beeson became coach and asked me to come on as an assistant. It was my first coaching gig and I learned a lot under him.”
The Texans will be moving up to the 6A classification next season, but the expectations from both Strader and Elza are high despite some strong competition.
“I know Sam is ready for the challenges that this program brings,” Elza said.
“There will be a lot of work, but I'm ready for the challenge,” Strader added. “My expectations are that the boys will give 110 percent everyday and improve. My goal is to set a foundation for success for years to come.”
The Texans will have to compete with their partner school in Byron Nelson, which won this past year's soccer championship on the boys side in Class 4A.