STEVENSVILLE – Ralph Serette has been coaching soccer for Stevensville High School for the past 20 years. Now he has been given an honor equal to Coach of the Year for Montana for his efforts.
Marian Olsen is the executive assistant for the Montana Coaches Association, which handles all of the Coach of the Year efforts for MHSA-sanctioned high school sports.
Olsen said soccer doesn’t have enough member coaches to get the full ‘Coach of the Year’ status because it is a small sport.
“Ralph Serette is a nominee as Boys Special Sports Category for coach of the year for Class A Soccer,” said Olsen.
“It doesn’t get any higher than that – it’s a nice honor.”
Serette is quick to give the praise for this award to the team he coached.
“Coaching all depends on if you have good kids – a lot of coaches take too much credit,” said Serette. “Last year we had a great team and went undefeated and went to the state championship and we lost in overtime.”
In October 2013, the undefeated Stevensville Yellowjackets made history by hosting a championship game – the first time for Stevensville in any sport.
Serette grew up playing soccer in Trinidad in the West Indies, then he came to Montana.
“We had a club team while I was at the University of Montana,” he said. “I took on the role of player/coach. Then I coached the Missoula Strikers for two seasons and then I moved down to Stevensville.
“This is my 20th season at SHS. I don’t think anyone has been coaching soccer longer in Montana.”
Serette said he started coaching at SHS because he loves the game and the community.
“When I originally started, John Powell’s son, Jacob, loved soccer and as a family they decided to get soccer going here. They built the soccer complex and then bowed out and left it for me.
“We have the greatest fields in the state and so I stay here. We have a great community – the volunteers put their effort into building the fields. It would have cost a quarter of a million dollars.
“I can still call John and he helps us out – he helped us with getting the scoreboard.”
John Powell said Serette is worthy of the award.
“It is great that Serette is getting this award,” said Powell. “He deserves the Montana Soccer Coach of the Year award – he is selfless and does everything for the kids.”
As for the upcoming soccer season, Serette is optimistic.
“We have the core of the team returning – most of the kids were juniors – we graduated some great players but have replacements coming in. We’d have to win state this year to top last year.”
Daniel Pendergast, a SHS senior who plays striker position, said Serette is a great coach.
“I love Ralph, he’s the man,” said Pendergast. “He’s been doing this for a long time and I’ve gotten to know him pretty well and so has everyone else, and everyone has gotten really comfortable with him being our coach.”
Joseph Fecteau, SHS senior center half back or forward, agreed.
“Ralph is awesome – he’s been my coach since I’ve been 9 years old so he’s kind of the father figure on the field and he’s pretty awesome,” said Fecteau. “He’s a great coach.”
“I was the first coach of Stevensville and I’m still hanging in there,” said Serette.
The SHS soccer team’s first practice was Friday.
“It’s nice to start the season off without any smoke thanks to the rain,” said Serette.
Senior players said they are looking forward to a great year.
“The season should be pretty exciting,” said Pendergast.
“It’s going to be an awesome year, it has the potential to be better than last year because we have a great group of guys that play well together,” said Fecteau.
The Montana Coaches Association mission is “to recognize those professional men and women who have devoted their energies over many years to bring excellence to sports programs in Montana Schools.”