Kroll returns to coach THS soccer
For 10 of the past 13 months, Brian Kroll resided in Aurora, Colo., with his family. But his heart and head were elsewhere.
“Mentally, I never lived in Colorado,” said Kroll, who had grown quite attached to the Tonganoxie High boys soccer program in his two years of serving as the team’s assistant.
That affection for Chieftains soccer made it easy for him to move back to the area this past week so he could become Tonganoxie’s new head coach.
Kroll and his family moved to Colorado in May of 2009 but he came back to Kansas in the fall to spend three months (which he presumed to be his last) with the THS boys soccer program. When the season ended and the team had its banquet, it was emotional for the players to see the assistant whom they call “Coach K” part ways with the program. It hit him hard, too.
Kroll returned to Aurora with his family and got heavily involved with parks and recreation work, specifically the youth soccer program, which gave him a chance to coach and even work as a referee. But Kroll said his wife, Christy, could tell he wasn’t completely happy. He said when the opportunity to head back to Tonganoxie and become the head coach presented itself — even though that would involve moving all over again — his wife, who had seen how emotionally attached Kroll and the players were at the banquet, insisted he make it happen.
Kroll said he wouldn’t be back, doing what he loves without the backing of “the coolest, most awesome wife in the world.”
It’s close, but the only thing keeping Kroll’s new position from an unabashed perfect scenario for him is the fact he won’t be able to work with Ken Lott, whom he replaces as head coach. Kroll said he had hoped Lott could be on staff as an assistant but THS administrators decided to go in another direction. Kroll said he never felt like the assistant coach while working with Lott and he hoped to duplicate that situation now that he is in charge of the program.
“We worked really well together and as it is now, he’s probably one of the best friends that I’ve ever had,” Kroll said.
That hasn’t stopped Kroll from diving head-first into his new gig. He is looking forward to keeping the program headed in a positive direction after the Chieftains won a regional playoff match this past fall.
THS players often credited Kroll, when he was an assistant, for making the team better. Tonganoxie athletics director Brandon Parker said Kroll’s relationship with the players made him an ideal choice.
“Brian has a good rapport with the players, but that being said, he pushes them and demands a lot out of them and won’t take anything less,” Parker said.
Now that he is the head coach, Kroll doesn’t think the player-coach relationship will change.
“I don’t anticipate it being different,” he said. “I see the kids ultimately responding the way they’ve always responded.”
Continued improvement, Kroll added, is the main goal for the upcoming season this fall.
“The point of the game on the high school level, as far as I’m concerned, is to put the best 11 on the field that give you the best opportunity to compete and hopefully turn out with a win,” he said.
In the long run, Kroll would like to see even more from the program. He said he hopes to integrate THS soccer with the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission youth leagues so that they could serve as a strong feeder system for the high school.
Kroll will be an emergency substitute in the school district while he works on finishing up his teaching degree during the next year.
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