The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 31, 2012

RUEDA: Soccer coaches deserve honors

By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor


They’ve combined for more than 300 wins over the last 16 seasons and,

earlier this month at the Minnesota State High School Soccer Coaches

Association recognition banquet, Leonard Woelfel and Crissy Makela

received their due.

The Mankato West coaches were formally inducted into the MSHSSCA Hall

of Fame. Few would argue they are deserving of the honor. They built

their respective programs from scratch and have turned them into

perennial contenders for section titles and accompanying state

tournament berths.

Woelfel has a 178-53-29 record over 15 seasons at West while also

serving in many other capacities at various levels of soccer. Among

the hats he was worn are Mankato United Soccer Club president, MSHSSCA

board member, Section 2A boys representative, coaches clinic student

demonstrator co-coordinator, academic award co-coordinator and

all-tournament selection committee member. He also serves as a referee

at many matches during the fall and summer seasons.

I can tell you from watching him on the sidelines that Woelfel is a

taskmaster. He doesn’t mince words if he thinks a player has made a

mistake, but he usually uses constructive criticism to make his point.

He’s the kind of coach who gets the most out of his players.

Makela has garnered many of the same awards as Woelfel and has served

in many of the same positions. In 16 years at West, she has a record

of 130-144-20, which includes a lot of growing-pains seasons during

the early years.

She has been a section rep, organizer of clinic demonstrator, senior

classic host, all-tournament committee member, academic award

coordinator and board member of the MSHSSCA.

She has twice been named Section 2A coach of the year and last season

was selected at the National Soccer Coaches Association Minnesota

Girls Small School Coach of the Year.

From watching her during matches, it has become obvious that Makela’s

primary method of coaching revolves around encouragement.

While she doesn’t hesitate to correct flaws she may see in a player or

formation, she strives to do so in as positively as possible. Both she

and Woelfel stress team first and individuals second.

If you stay in coaching long enough you're bound to pile up a

significant amount of wins, but that has never been the goal of either

Woelfel or Makela. Teaching athletes the benefits of hard work,

determination, responsibility and the right way to do things have

always been their primary focus.

Hall of Fame membership is something that’s simply given out, it’s

earned. Over the past 15 to 16 years, Woelfel and Makela have done

just that.