In a town rich with history and tradition, Anoka Tornadoes boys’ soccer coach Pete Hayes “bleeds maroon.”
And after recording his 300th soccer win Sept. 4, Hayes’ maroon blood seems to be flowing freely.
“I’ve been blessed to be able to coach and teach here – these kids are hardworking kids. That’s what you ask for and that’s what they give you,” Hayes said.
In fact, Hayes – who this season enters his 25th year as head coach of Anoka’s boys’ soccer team – gives high praise to those players as he reflects on his 300 wins on the soccer field.
“Those kids come and play hard and they are willing to learn. I just tell them, ‘Give it all you’ve got.’ If they give it all they’ve got, they will be successful – and they have,” he said.
In fact, Hayes said his Anoka Tornado soccer teams have only recorded a few sub-500 years in the win-loss column during his tenure.
“These kids have high expectations to do well, and usually they do,” said Hayes.
Truth be told, 18 of Hayes’ teams have been to the section finals and he’s taken 11 of his boys’ soccer teams to the state tournament.
In 2007, the Tornado boys took home the state tournament championship trophy and in the past three years, Anoka’s goalies Zack Harwerth, Connor Iverson and Nick Svedin have been named to the all-state team.
In addition to 25 years as head coach for the boys’ soccer team, Hayes’ coaching tenure at Anoka High School extends to boys’ hockey, girls’ hockey and baseball as well.
And he doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon.
“I’m competitive still,” Hayes said. “I’m still excited to get up and go to the first practice. As long as the competitive juices keep flowing, I’ll keep doing it.”
Those competitive juices first started flowing when Hayes was a Tornado soccer player himself, a sport he chose by default when he was too small to play high school football.
“But I got on the soccer field and I really loved it,” Hayes said.
So much in fact, that when Anoka’s head soccer coach position became available, he jumped at the chance.
“But I really learned on the job. I had never coached soccer before,” he said.
Turns out, he learned the lessons well. And he’s got the trophies to prove it.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org