The man who helped found the Longhorn soccer program eight years ago and then left the team has returned as head coach.
Roger Wholly, also a PHS science teacher, was appointed this spring as head coach to replace Byron Quinlan who resigned last fall after one year at the helm of the program.
Wholly becomes the team's fourth head coach. The others before Quinlan were Alfonzo Munoz and Dave Greiner.
In the early days of the Longhorn soccer team, Munoz and Wholly spearheaded the move to have the program recognized by the school district governing board.
In 1994 and 1995, Munoz served as head coach and Wholly as the jayvee coach.
"Alfonzo had (varsity) experience and I didn't, so he took the head (coaching) position," Wholly said.
After the team experienced early success and gained recognition as a PHS varsity sport, Wholly departed the prep scene, but continued to actively coach on the youth level.
For the past two years, he and his wife Kim have coached a 10- to 12-year-old coed allstar team that competes locally and in the Grand Canyon State program.
Wholly first began playing soccer as a junior high school student in Massachusetts. He also has served as an assistant coach on the Kickers youth squad and is currently fielding boys and girls 14-and-under teams to participate in the Phoenix GC games June 15 and 16.
What it takes
"I think I have a good vision for the team," Wholly said,
That foresight includes discipline, proper conditioning and making an annual run at the state championship.
"If the players' intent is not to become (Class) 3A champs, they shouldn't be on the field," Wholly said.
For next year's team to earn the school's first state title, the coach said, the athletes must take the game more seriously.
He said he'll stress a strict and positive discipline code that will keep players focused on the tasks at hand.
"Attitude and 'coachability' will be important to making the team," he said.
Wholly said he envisions his demands for accountability being successful because of the high caliber of athletes moving onto the varsity team.
"The level of players has greatly improved over the past five years and I think they really want to win," he said.
One of the changes under Wholly that will be immediately obvious to local fans is the smaller roster size.
To increase efficiently, the coach said, he'll cut the varsity roster to 15 or 16 players from approximately 18 who have been traditionally kept on the team. Because there will be roster cuts, Wholly said it will crucial for aspiring players to report on the first day of practice in topnotch physical condition.
"Those who don't," he said, "probably won't make (the team)."
To help the players improve their conditioning, strength and skill levels, Wholly is conducting preseason sessions of indoor soccer in the old PHS gymnasium from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday.
"It would help if they (the players) would also take up jogging for endurance," the coach said.
Also, varsity hopefuls can take advantage of the PHS weight room Wholly is supervising from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
The coach is also encouraging players to take advantage of the Payson Longhorn Soccer camp, July 23 to 26 on the Rumsey park multipurpose field. On hand to coach the campers will be two of the most highly regarded collegiate coaches in the state. Mike Pantaloine and Hugh Bell, of Prescott Yavapai College, have built the Roughrider program into one of the best in the country.
At the camp, the Yavapai coaches will teach skills, strategy, rules of the sport and also work to condition the youngsters.
The fee is $120, which includes camp T-shirt, water bottle and soccer ball.
To register for the camp, call Wholly at 474-2233.
Thus far, about the only glitch in Wholly's taking over the program has been the lack of a jayvee coach.
Although he and athletic director, Dave Bradley, have sent out feelers to prospective coaches, none have accepted the position.
If a coach doesn't turn up soon, Wholly said, the jayvee program will probably be canceled.
"I hope that doesn't happen, but we can't have a team without a coach," he said.
Call Bradley at 474-2233 for more information on the coaching vacancy.