Change of pace for Monarch soccer, coach
By AUSTIN COLBERT
When Thomas More Prep-Marian soccer coach Darryl Wellbrock went from coaching the Monarch boys to the girls five years ago, he knew how he went about things might have to change.
His daughter, Deonna, was still in elementary school at the time and he had plenty of experience coaching at the club level, but dealing with teenagers was a different story.
"Coaching girls -- and every coach will say this -- is different than coaching boys," Wellbrock said. "One of the things I got from a coach that was a coach of mine in middle school, he said, 'If you coach girls, it should be an automatic ticket into heaven.' I asked him, naturally, 'Well, how long do you have to coach them?' 'One day is enough.' "
Wellbrock helped start the TMP boys' soccer program in the fall of 2005, when his son, Darren, was a freshman.
Darren graduated in the spring of 2009 and would go on to play one season at Benedictine College in Atchison before deciding to focus on academics.
That same year an opportunity opened for Wellbrock to take over the girls' team, a program that had started at the same time as the boys. He wasn't ready to make the change, but knew he might not get the opportunity again.
"He knew he needed to get over quick because I was coming up in a few years," Deonna Wellbrock said. "It was a complete different change for him, though. Attitudes from boys to girls are way different ... he was kind of learning with me, but I wasn't a teenager yet so I didn't have as much sass, but now he's really gotten used to it."
Wellbrock is in his fifth season leading the TMP girls' soccer team, and it's been a long five years waiting for this class of freshman, including his daughter Deonna, to get here.
It's been a struggle for the TMP girls' soccer program in the four years under Wellbrock. The Monarchs won only four combined games in the first three seasons before a 4-8 campaign in 2013. Over those four years, TMP averaged only 1.07 goals a game while giving up 5.39 per contest.
This season has been a much different tale.
"It's really nice. I know me and my dad saw it coming, especially with us club girls being together forever, and us almost all coming together," Deonna said. "Some of the girls, like the junior girls, were used to losing and now they are changing to, 'I want to win, I want to win,' instead of, 'Let's not get mercy ruled.'"
TMP is off to a 3-2 start this season, its only losses coming to Hays High School in the season opener, 1-0 in overtime, and a 5-0 loss at Garden City. The Monarchs recorded arguably the greatest win in school history April 10, when they won at Dodge City, 2-0. It was Wellbrock's first win as the TMP girls' coach over a team not named Word of Life or Independent.
TMP has outscored its opponents 21-8 this season, and is on pace to shatter the school record for goals, set last season with 26.
And the reason for much of the success is the current freshman and sophomore class, a group that has played together since they were young. Of the group of underclassmen, the best of them might be Deonna Wellbrock, who is the team's primary goalkeeper that just happens to have a knack for scoring as well.
"The level of play she has brought in the goal and on the field with her has been good for the high school team," Darryl Wellbrock said. "I'm harder on her than I am on anybody else. I was the same with my son. Kind of made him what he is now and I'm doing the same thing with her. She gets no slack."
Deonna, along with club soccer, spent two years on the Kansas Olympic Development Program soccer team, which is an under 17 all-star team that spends time competing across the country during the offseason.
She also plays volleyball and basketball for TMP, but her real love is soccer. Deonna has aspirations to play goalkeeper in college, but first wants to help get TMP soccer to a level it has never been.
And Darryl Wellbrock believes the team is well on its way to getting there. Looking back, he also realizes it was probably a blessing he moved over to the girls' team sooner than he would have liked. It gave him time to develop the current upperclassmen and build the program his way.
Now he can just watch as TMP girls' soccer begins to take off and enjoy the extra time he gets to spend with his daughter and the rest of the girls he has coached for many years, including club soccer.
"It has been very rewarding to me as a father. The key word is time. I tell parents that and I tell kids that. One of the most important things you can do for your kids is spend time with them," Darryl Wellbrock said.
"I have high expectations and high hopes for these girls. They can do everything they want if they put their mind to it. I've coached them for so long with hopes of this happening."