Resident named National Coach of the Year for soccer

by Martin McConnell

Bath resident Wally Senk recently received the 2022 National High School Coach of the Year Award from United Soccer Coaches for his work as the Copley High School girls soccer coach.

Senk was also selected as Suburban League Coach of the Year, Greater Akron Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Coach of the Year, Ohio Coach of the Year and Regional Coach of the Year.

Senk called the experience “almost a surreal moment,” and said the accolades felt like the pinnacle of his individual performance as a teacher and coach.

“At the end of December, I received a phone call,” Senk said. “I knew I was Regional Coach of the Year, which is significant in itself. When the gentleman called and told me I was National Coach of the Year, it made me teary-eyed, to be honest.”

Senk’s achievements came on the heels of Copley soccer’s most recent feat: an undefeated season with 21 wins and just one draw, followed by winning the OHSAA Division II girls state soccer championship. According to Senk, the team members were determined to meet the lofty goals they set for themselves.

“Last year, we did pretty well, and I knew the majority of that team was coming back, so I knew we had a real opportunity for success,” he said. “On paper, we were great. I knew we were going to be competitive, but I had no idea we were going to do what we did.”

A self-proclaimed lifetime coach, Senk said he began attending soccer camps as a teenager. In addition to playing in the camps himself, he would partially coach.

“For me, it started really early. I was doing camps when I was 16, 17 years old as a coach and a player,” he said. “I always knew I wanted to teach and coach after I was done with college and my playing career. My first coaching gig, ironically, we made it to the state final two years in a row.”

Following a coaching job with Cloverleaf High School’s boys soccer team, Senk was hired on as the girls coach at Copley. He said that while the experience is totally different, it is one that he has enjoyed.

“To be honest, I don’t know if I could ever go back to coaching boys,” he said. “There’s such a huge difference in coaching girls and boys, in how they respond.”

Since graduating from Walsh Jesuit High School, Senk steadily rose through the ranks of soccer coaching in Ohio. He said that more than a few coaching mentors have helped mold his coaching style into one based around culture, rather than tactics.

“Those girls supported each other more than any team I’ve ever had,” he said. “It was the most cohesive unit I’ve ever coached; it almost ran itself.”

Senk was honored at the United Soccer Coaches’ national convention and banquet on Jan. 14 following the season. He said the Copley team was as much a factor in him receiving the award as his own performance.

“I’m not a big fan of accolades for myself. I like to kind of fly under the radar,” Senk said. “But [it was] just a culmination of everything that transpired throughout the season and the successes that we found. You’re not going to become a National Coach of the Year without a quality team.” ∞

Wally Senk (center) accepts the division trophy with
Hannah Garrison, Copley class of 2011 (l) and Brooke
Moran Copley class of 2015 (r). Both played under
Senk and now coach with him. Photo submitted.