When boys soccer returns next fall, a new face will be in charge of the defending Four Rivers Conference champions.
After 15 seasons as the head coach of Pacific boys soccer, Todd Dempsey announced on Nov. 14 he would be stepping down from the boys team. Dempsey will remain the coach for the girls soccer team this spring.
“I’m extremely grateful to the Meramec Valley R-3 School District for giving me an opportunity to live out a lifelong dream,” Dempsey said. “When I took over 15 years ago, I never would have imagined the impact this part of my career in education would have on me. The relationships I’ve forged with countless players, their families, officials, and coaches are something that will stick with me forever. I’ve been blessed to work with some fantastic kids that have gone on to become even better adults. I think more than any specific win, that’s what I’m most proud of. I’ve had players serve our country in the military, play collegiate soccer at all levels, and even come back to teach and coach alongside me. I’m not sure I can adequately put into words just how proud I am of each and every one of them.”
The decision comes as a result of a desire to have more time for family.
“While I am going to miss something that has been an integral part of my life for the past 15 years, it’s also a decision that I’m at peace with,” Dempsey said. “I come from a coaching family, and I can recall times where my father couldn’t come watch me play throughout high school and college because of his coaching duties. My daughter is really involved in playing soccer and basketball, and is approaching high school. So I want to be able to take every opportunity to see her play. My wife has endured a lot of solo parenting moments up to this point, and I think I owe her a large debt of gratitude for being a ‘coach’s widow’ too. This just feels like the right time to step away and let someone else continue to grow this program.”
His girls team is coming off an 8-10 season in 2017 where they finished second in the Four Rivers Conference.
They will look to build on that success this spring behind returning seniors Megan Meyers, Maddie King, Morgann Harrison and Emma Plante.
Meyers was the team’s starting goalkeeper last season and King and Plante were among the top three on the team in scoring.
Spring practices are under way and the Lady Indians will play in a preseason jamboree at Hillsboro on March 8 before opening the regular season at home against Owensville on March 19.
Dempsey coached the boys to each of the last five conference championships and a total of 10 conference titles during his tenure. Three of those FRC titles were split between Pacific and Union. He posted a career record of 156-165-2.
“I’ve always tried to adapt my coaching style to the players I had at any given time,” Dempsey said. “Sometimes it meant tightening the screws with them, and other times it required a more relaxed approach. Either way, I’d like to think I was able to get the most out of our players and help them achieve the goals they had set for themselves.”
The Indians came close in recent years to capturing the elusive district championship, coming within one goal of getting past Washington in the district final each of the past two seasons.
This past fall, the Indians started 0-5, but came out of a tough opening schedule battle-hardened after matching up with programs from larger schools. Pacific followed that stretch by winning eight of its next nine, taking the consolation trophy at its own tournament and making a clean sweep of conference rivals Sullivan, Union and St. Clair.
The Indians ended the season 12-9 and gave Washington, which went on to finish second in the state, everything it could handle.
Dempsey said he will continue to be available to assist the players in the program throughout the school year.
“There are certainly too many people to thank personally,” Dempsey said. “So I will just say that I am humbled and grateful for everyone that I have had the pleasure of meeting through the years. Even though I won’t be coaching the boys, I’ll always be their biggest fan.”