When asked to reflect about his years as the head coach of the Augustana Vikings Women's Soccer Team Paul Stone was not shy to share his experiences. Paul sacrificed many hours to start the Augustana Women's Soccer team five years ago, and if you asked him today, he would tell you it was well worth it. He has had a very positive and lasting impact on the players throughout the years, and plenty of memories to go along with them. Every player; past, present and future will respect and admire the hard work and determination displayed by Coach Stone.
How long were you head coach for the Augustana Women's Soccer team?
5 years. The first season was just an exhibition season to garner interest and then 4 seasons in the ACAC.
In all your years of coaching, what is your favourite memory?
Our first league win at Keyano in our first season, and Gil pushing me back to the hotel in a shopping cart that evening after dinner. There's a picture somewhere. We won the next day as well. 2 game winning streak...
What is your favourite memory from this past season?
Watching Tara Berger score 9 of our 15 goals this season and finish 2nd in ACAC scoring. It was fun to be part of. She played the way she was capable of playing and sacrificed herself each time she went on the field. I'm pretty sure the rookies learned some things from her this year. I also enjoyed watching the rookies play and step up in a very tough division.
What is your favourite thing about coaching?
No matter what happened on the day, whether a practice or after a game, my favourite thing was the banter and laughter.
What will you miss the most about coaching?
Game day. Other than playing, there is no better feeling than being part of the action from the side-lines. The pre-game jitters, figuring out the starting line ups and anticipation of the opening kick-off. I'm a coach that lives every pass, shot and save from the side-lines. I get a little emotional sometimes…I'm going to miss coach's meetings with Gil at our office. We got a lot resolved in our office…
If you could give advice to the current players and future players of Augustana women's soccer, what would it be?
Listen to your coaches and have patience with them. There are 18 players on the roster that all need to be treated a little differently. Everyone has a role to play. Respect our decisions. You don't have to agree with the coaches all the time, but at least respect them. For the rookies coming in, keep your head down and work hard. Don't give up if decisions don't go your way. Communicate with the coaches and ask them tough questions like, "What do I need to do to improve and help the team?" Coaches love that stuff…TEAM first…
If you could give advice to the leaving players, what would it be?
Not so much advice, because they've just graduated university and I never did. I went to trade school instead. So, who am I to give a graduating university student with a degree, advice? I'll give it a try. We went through some adversity, some great times and some not so great times. Learn from them. You will experience the same things in life. If you do your best at whatever you do, you can walk away with your integrity and your head held high. Treat people the way you would like to be treated. If you mess up, own it. If you say you're going to do something, then do it. If you do something great, don't take all the credit. Pass it around. It takes a team to accomplish great things. These are simple rules in life.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I can't say enough about having an opportunity to coach at the varsity level. I will have lasting memories forever. I was honoured to be in the same group as some classy Vikings coaches. Your words of encouragement, the respect you showed our soccer program and players, the support and advice you gave me over the years was amazing. The coaches really made me feel like part of the Vikings staff. I will never forget you. Thank you. We can meet at my office for a pint anytime. You've got my number.
To all the athletes. I have so much respect and admiration for you. The way you represent this campus, the Vikings logo and the community, makes you all heroes in my book. You don't get enough credit for what you do, on and off the field of play. I don't know how you manage the school work on top of it. Keep up the great work. I'll be around to watch you compete in the future.