Springfield’s Kosek gets a kick out of sport
NEW MIDDLETOWN — Justin Kosek looks around his huddle as he’s done so many times before.
One face in the Springfield girls soccer gathering is more familiar than the rest, his daughter Kylee.
Seeing her looking up in the huddle has changed like the line of sight between the father and daughter. Both are almost eye to eye, just as they are during the two 40-minute halves.
Kylee was 5. Soccer in New Middletown was foreign to the residents. Football. Basketball. Baseball. The staples of a Mahoning Valley’s sports fan’s diet.
Justin admits when he started coaching his daughter in those early days, he had to study all the facets of the game. He began vesting himself into the game Kylee loves, coaching everyone the same. No favoritism.
“Every time she moved up to the next age group, I didn’t know enough,” Justin said. “I ended up doing it anyway. As she kept falling in love with it and (played club soccer), I went wholeheartedly into it.”
The Springfield junior forward said she and her father are in sync with where the team needs to be on the pitch.
Her role was not as defined, playing for her father, who is in his sixth year at Springfield.
“It was hard to separate the dad aspect and the coach aspect,” Kylee said. “Once we figured out that, that it separates and it’s two different relationships, it started to work out good. We have a real good bonding relationship.”
The two keep the talk at home about the No. 9 Tigers, ranked in the latest Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll.
Kylee plays club soccer, so she and Justin have plenty to kick around the house.
“We tell each other when enough is enough,” Kylee said.
They won’t talk specifics, just in generalities about the Tigers.
“It’s not separating them completely, but not harp on something good or bad she did during the game — just talk about the team in general,” said Justin, whose team is 8-0.
The Tigers have wins against Ursuline and Salem, but face tough competition in United Local, Beaver Local, LaBrae and Warren G. Harding. The Tigers play LaBrae today.
Kylee has had three or more goals in games where she and the rest of the starters play the first half.
The Tigers beat Ursuline 3-1 earlier this year. Kylee had an assist, the a goal in that game.
Justin said Kylee’s proficiency around the net isn’t all he wants from his daughter.
“I’ve always been more proud of the assists she does, making sure she understands she doesn’t have to be the one who scores all the time,” Justin said.