FLOYDS KNOBS — Lewie Stevens’ name will always be synonymous with Floyd Central soccer.
He was the first coach of both the boys’ and girls’ teams at the school. He is currently in his 22nd, and final, season of coaching the latter. In that time he has guided the girls to 232 wins and 15 of the program’s 16 sectional titles, including an “improbable” one last week.
Today, the Highlanders will face ninth-ranked Bloomington South (15-1-1) at noon in the second semifinal of the Bloomington South Regional. Eighth-ranked Columbus North (16-1-1) will take on No. 7 Evansville Memorial (14-3-1) at 10 a.m. in the first semi. The winners will meet at 7 p.m. tonight.
If Floyd loses it will be the end of the road for Stevens, who has relished coaching the Highlanders.
“I’ve loved it and my goal for the girls, whether they play at the next level or not, is to continue with it in some shape or form,” Stevens said.
Stevens, who turns 58 next week, has been involved in soccer in one way or another for much of his life.
He grew up playing the sport with his two brothers and continued to at New Albany, from which he graduated in 1980. He only stopped playing competitively a few years ago after tearing his Achilles.
Stevens began teaching at Floyd Central in August of 1993 and helmed the girls’ team in its inaugural season in 1994. He quickly turned the Highlanders into an area powerhouse, leading them to sectional titles in 1996, ‘97, ‘98, ‘99 and 2000 — as well as a regional title in 2000 — before taking a hiatus.
He retook the reins of the program in 2007 and led Floyd to 10 more sectional titles, including last Saturday’s 3-0 win over New Albany in the Class 3A Floyd Central Sectional final.
“It’s the most improbable victory of the bunch (of sectionals). Of the 15 (sectional titles), I’d say this is the most surprising because of where we were at in the middle of the season and the injuries we had,” Stevens said afterward.
Stevens credits much of the program’s success to the players and his assistant coaches over the years, including Lynn Kaiser (who has been with him every year), Brittany Eisner, Tony Holland and Aly Shireman.
“All of them have been key parts of our collective success,” Stevens said. “We’ve put a lot of time in, but we’ve gotten a lot out of it. We always hoped that the kids benefited from our approach to the game. ... We’ve always said this, ‘We want the kids to get better as soccer players, learn what it’s like to be on a team and have fun.’”
Stevens still finds coaching fun, but he said that it’s the right time for him to step away.
“My son (Toli) is graduating from high school, so my wife (Therese) and I will have a little bit more freedom and we thought we’d want to spend a little bit more time with each other,” said Stevens, whose daughter, Carly, played for him in the 2010s. “It’s tough on me physically too. The older I get, these 60- and 70-hour weeks, they’re running me down.”
And even though he won’t be a part of the program after this year, Stevens said he’ll continue to support the Highlanders and his successor.
“Whoever it is, I’ll support them in any way, shape or form they need,” Stevens said.