Pauls named MHS' boys soccer coach

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Kevin Pauls is Middleton's new boys soccer coach./Photo submitted

Kevin Pauls isn’t ashamed to admit it.

He’s a little nervous. And it’s easy to see why.

Pauls was recently named the new boys soccer coach at Middleton High School. And Pauls understands that taking over a program as powerful as the Cardinals is an awfully tall task.

“While I'm super excited, I'm also very honored and even a bit nervous,” Pauls said. “Within a couple hours … I heard from friends, family, current and past players, parents, and colleagues, literally around the world congratulating me, which made me feel great, but also shows the amount of pressure that comes with this program. This program has been at the top for a long time.”

But Pauls certainly seems ready to take the reins.

Pauls is a lifelong soccer player who attended McFarland High School and began coaching with the Spartans in 1998. At McFarland, Pauls coached at all levels and was also a varsity assistant.

Pauls spent the 2006 season at Madison La Follette and served as the interim head coach the final few weeks of that year.

Pauls then joined Middleton’s staff in 2007 where he worked for head coaches Ken Burghy and Ben Kollasch. Pauls has coached all levels at MHS, and had a huge hand in starting the Cardinals’ varsity reserve program in 2012. Today, Middleton’s varsity reserve team plays about 70% of its schedule against varsity opponents.

“I remember when I was a kid and played against a Middleton team thinking 'holy crap, these guys are good,' ” Pauls said. “I think today there's still that thought from our opponents. In many cases we are somebody's Super Bowl, so we have to bring it, night in and night out.”

The Cardinals have done that for several years now. And Pauls has had a front row seat for much of the fun.

Kollasch, who took over the program in 2013, led Middleton to a 92-38-16 record in that time. The Cardinals finished second in the Big Eight Conference three times and third four others.

Kollasch also led Middleton to the 2016 state tournament, where the Cardinals fell to Green Bay Preble.

Prior to that, Burghy compiled a 515-139-49 record in 29 seasons at MHS. Burghy also led the Cardinals to 17 Big Eight titles, 12 trips to the state tournament and a state title in 2004.

While Pauls will undoubtedly put his own stamp on certain areas of the program, he doesn’t plan on any drastic changes.

“What Ken started and Ben continued has been quite successful,” Pauls said. “Since I've been here we've been to state four times and that has to be our goal every year.

“I don't think people will see much change in a soccer sense. We'll still make sure to ‘take care of the ball and take care of the tradition.’ From year to year our tactics will be determined by the talent we have.”

Talent is something the Cardinals typically have, thanks to a strong feeder program and terrific coaching at the high school level.

Now it’s up to Pauls to keep that going — and write the next great chapter of MHS soccer.

“We have seen our program grow from about 100 players when I started here to about 170 the last couple seasons, so clearly something is going right for us,” Pauls said. “We need to be in the state and conference hunt every year. We have always been really blessed with the talent that comes to us from the clubs in the area and I don't see that changing.”

 

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