Spring Lake Park girls soccer head coach Mindy Daugherty wants her team to be successful on the field.
But more importantly, she wants the Panthers to thrive off of it.
That led to some history this month, as Daugherty was selected as Minnesota’s inaugural Coach of Significance Award winner by United Soccer Coaches and the High School Boys and Girls Advocacy Group.
The honor is presented to just one coach per state. It is designed to acknowledge character development by “coaches who are focused on not only developing great soccer players, but coaches who realize the great game of soccer can teach life lessons and provide opportunities to develop outstanding young men and women.”
The first class of award winners spans 23 states, with the hopes of expanding to all 50.
To receive the award, coaches had to be nominated by a player, with last year’s senior captain Hannah Schultz submitting, “Her constant support, caring nature and motivation made for a successful team dynamic.”
Daugherty has coached soccer for 19 years, ranging from 2-year-olds to college players. She has spent four years at Spring Lake Park.
“I am absolutely honored by this award,” Daugherty said. “I have grown up playing soccer and know a lot of coaches that are way more deserving of this award than I am.”
Character, the focus of the award, is at the heart of the Panthers’ approach.
“In our soccer program we really strive to be good people on and off the field. Our team can have success on the field and enjoy what we are doing, but it is not only what we do on the field that matters,” Daugherty said. “When soccer is over we still want to walk away learning how to be good people. So that is what success means to us.
“I am absolutely able to see these qualities carry over into non-soccer activities. Our athletes are more than soccer players, they are leaders, mentors, empathetic, kind and big-hearted.”
The Panthers have turned those traits into action in their community as well.
“One of the biggest and most exciting times for our team is when we are able to go to Feed My Starving Children,” Daugherty said. “They love the feeling of helping others. Going to FMSC is a tradition and we will continue to do that every year.
“As for showing character on the field, my players all share their love for soccer, and really push to show our values every day. Our values this season are: I will be positive, I will improve, I will be committed, I will work hard and I will enjoy what I am doing.”