STHS soccer coach no ordinary Joe
Testimony to Joe Winters’ love and commitment to coaching boys soccer at South Tahoe High came after the Vikings lost a sudden-death shootout to Carson City in the zone semifinals last fall.
It was the final game for his son, Brian, and many followers of the program expected Winters to announce his retirement.
They never got it.
What they did get, though, was a zone championship and the school’s second appearance in the state finals this fall. Only one goal separated South Tahoe from winning its first Nevada state soccer championship on Saturday.
Once again, there are probably some people out there half-expecting Winters to yield to the demands of being a father of three and self-employed electrician.
Don’t find a replacement just yet. At the expense of his business, Winters Electric, he has found time for each of the passions in his life.
One can’t help but speculate that the orderly Winters never handed in a paper late during his school days.
“It’s increasingly hard every year. I’m so busy with my other job and obviously my family,” Winters said. “It’s a typical assumption that we’re only coaching for our kid. Though that is an important contributing factor, I do love the game. I love being involved in young men’s lives and trying to make an impact on their lives.”
Evan Baker is one of those players who has appreciated the many strengths of not only Winters the coach but Winters the caring human being.
“He knows a lot about soccer and he really knows how to coach,” said Vikings senior and leading scorer Baker, who has played for Winters off and on since Baker was 6. “He’s taught me a lot, and his teams are very successful, so that shows that he does a good job.
“He’s real dedicated to the team and believes in everyone. He knows what each of our limits are.”
Baker said there was some concern among team members last off-season that Winters wouldn’t return.
“He knew we had a pretty good team this year, so he decided to keep going,” he said. “We’re glad he stayed with us because he already knows us.”
Only one of Winters’ three children – 12-year-old Whitney – still lives at home, but already dad is feeling a parental obligation to provide his daughter with the same coaching help he gave Brian.
“My family comes before coaching. Some day I’ll make the decision if I’ll coach her, or if I’ll assist or help out her team,” Winters said.
His family has always been very understanding – even to a fault. His oldest daughter, Jessilyn, obligingly moved up her wedding date last summer.
“I told her she had to get married before Aug. 16, because that’s when practice starts,” Winters said.
But his 20-year-old electrical business suffers the most because of the time he spends with his extended family on the soccer field – Winters typically carries six more players on his varsity rosters than most coaches.
“It’s financially challenging, and it takes a lot away from the business when I’m not there,” Winters said. “The people I have working for me have been real understanding and cooperative.”
Winters says practices and games take away at least three hours per day from his business. To lessen the impact during the preseason he runs daily double practices from 7-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m., and during the season he’ll work on a free Saturday.
“When I do something, I want to do it to the best of my ability,” Winters said. “When I’m coaching, I want to be the best coach, when I’m doing electrical work, I want to be the best electrician I can be, and I want to be the best parent I can be.”
Judging from his career coaching record of 104-24-20 (including three Division I titles, one Division II crown, one zone championship and two zone runner-up finishes) at STHS, the reputation and longevity of his business and the success of his children, Winters can sleep well at night.
“I doubt if my success can primarily be looked at by the numbers. A man’s success isn’t what he accomplishes on a given day; it has to be measured over a period of time,” Winters said.
Some of that success has been shaping his players’ conduct on the field. This fall, Winters instituted a $1 penalty for each player caught swearing during a game. The money is being used for postseason awards.
“If guys are out there swearing, it’s not only a reflection of the team and the school but a reflection on me,” he said.
The community can only hope that Winters will continue to coach the flourishing program – not only because of the preponderance of wins, but the lessons he teaches his players.
“Everybody always asks me when I’m going to quit, and I tell them I take it one year at a time. I’ll do it as long as I’m having fun doing it, it’s financially affordable and I can withstand the stress,” Winters said.
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