After coaching for almost all of the last 18 years, Fairmont Area head boys soccer coach Jeff Kot is looking forward to having more free time.
Kot, the only coach in the Cardinal boys soccer program's seven-year varsity history, guided Fairmont Area to a piece of the South Central Conference championship during four of the last five seasons.
After amassing 82 victories, Kot has opted to hang up his clipboard - for now.
STEPPING DOWN — Fairmont Area head boys soccer coach Jeff Kot discusses strategy with Joe Washa (left), Matt Tennyson (blue jersey), Joe Nordquist (far right) and the rest of his Cardinal players during a 2012 regular-season game at Mahoney Field in Fairmont. Kot recently announced his resignation as the program’s head coach. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"When we first started the high school program, I thought that they might want to get someone younger to coach," said Kot. "So I was surprised when they asked me to do it, and now it's been seven years."
Since the program became part of the Minnesota State High School League in 2006, the Cardinals have earned a pair of trips to the Section 2A championship.
Now, instead of trips to the playoffs or potential trips to the Class A state tournament, Kot will be more focused on relaxing trips with his family.
"My life for so long has been dictated by soccer. Vacations we have gone on or things my family could do was based on the soccer schedule," said Kot. "It will be nice to be able to have flexibility for when we want to do things."
Just because he may be opting to watch from the other sideline though, does not mean that Kot will not be around the soccer complex that bears his name.
"I have always liked taking care of the fields, painting the lines and cutting the grass. It's good exercise, gives me time to think and keeps me active," said Kot. "And it might be a challenge to watch from the other side of the field, but I think that the team will be alright."
Fairmont Area will have 13 players coming back to next year's squad, including possibly 10 seniors with varsity experience.
"I think that part of my decision to step away now is because I know that whoever comes in after me will have a solid group to work with," said Kot. "We have lots of players coming back and they will have a lot of varsity experience."
While their roster may be looking solid for next year, the head coaching role will be a tough position to fill.
"I'm looking forward to doing things that I haven't been able to do because of my schedule," said Kot. "I'm not retiring from teaching, but I have a 15-year honey-do list and I would like to take my dad's boat out to fish. I think it's time to get back to some of the other things I like to do."
In addition to more time for hobbies, Kot will also look to pursue more of his own education.
"For the soccer program, I think it's a good time to get someone young and fresh for a new perspective," said Kot. "And for me, I have always thought about pursuing a masters. So I might also do that with more time."
Kot will never be far from the soccer fields, even after his retirement from coaching, and with all that he has done for the soccer program, he is sure to remain a fixture in its history.
"I think when anyone starts out coaching, it is to help with their kids' team or because it is something their kids like," said Kot. "My kids are past their high school days, but I may get back into coaching. It depends on how persistent my grandkids are."