Lemon takes MHS girls' soccer job

Bob Lemon will be making the transition from coaching boys to girls this coming soccer season. After heading up the Mitchell United -- the varsity boys' soccer team in town -- for five years, Lemon will take over as head coach of the Mitchell Hig...

Bob Lemon will be making the transition from coaching boys to girls this coming soccer season.

After heading up the Mitchell United -- the varsity boys' soccer team in town -- for five years, Lemon will take over as head coach of the Mitchell High girls' soccer team this year.

Lemon takes over for Dan Williams, who coached MHS for two seasons.

Mitchell Soccer Association President Denise Werner said Friday that Bob Duff, of Greensboro, N.C., has been hired to replace Lemon as United head coach.

Lemon said he was hired in June for the girls' job. One of the big reasons for the switch for Lemon was getting the chance to spend more time with his daughter, Kayla, who will be a sophomore this coming school year.


"My daughter's on the team and I felt like I wasn't able to see a lot of her games when I was coaching the United," Lemon said. "I thought hard about going over to the girls' program. I wanted to change gears a little bit."

The MHS girls' soccer program is entering its season year with a co-op with Mitchell Christian. Lemon, who is a junior high teacher at Christian, said a pay increase wasn't a factor in his decision, either.

"There's some difference in the financial aspect, but it's not about that," Lemon said. "Any coach will tell you that he's in it for the love of coaching. In the all the years I've coached, I've never really got to experience it with my own kids when they were younger. It's starting to get to that point now.

"There were a lot of factors that went into my decision. My daughter was part of the reason, but not the sole reason. She was an important part and there were other factors that were considered."

Lemon helped start the United program from scratch in 2001. He helped Mitchell to a Class B title in 2003 and led the team to the Class A championship game last year where United lost to Sioux Falls Christian. Lemon admits leaving such a successful program was a hard thing to do.

"It was hard for me going through this process, especially with the juniors and seniors that will be playing for United this year," Lemon said. "There are massive numbers over there with like 19 juniors and seniors. I've been with these kids for a long time and we've had a lot of success. They mean a lot to me and I appreciate the work they've put in. It will still be fun to watch them develop and grow as a team."

Lemon added that he thinks the United will again be one of the top teams in Class A boys' soccer this year.

Lemon inherits an MHS program that has struggled over the past few seasons. The number of athletes going out has stayed steady, according to Lemon. Last year, about 20 athletes went out for girls' soccer and this year Lemon is expecting around 17.


"The numbers are down from last year," he said. "But they had a large number of seniors last year; I think 10 of them graduated. Our No. 1 goal is to be competitive and to develop and positive attitude. The wins and losses will take care of themselves. We're going to be young and we'll have to work through some inexperience. I want the girls to stay positive and really develop some confidence in themselves."

Lemon pointed to the larger numbers in the freshman and sophomore class as being encouraging. The Kernels will have 14 freshman and sophomores on this year's roster.

"I look at the program being in transition," Lemon said. "The numbers are there at the younger level. The problem is inexperience."

Mitchell will have two seniors on its roster with Molly Gosmire and Madeaya Gedstad. The team begins practice on Aug. 7 and their first game is Aug. 19 at Vermillion.

Werner said Duff is in the process of moving from North Carolina to Mitchell. Duff has been a physical education teacher and high school soccer coach since 2003 at Ben L. Smith High School. His soccer coaching experience goes back to 1973 when he was a player/coach at Okaloosa-Walton Junior College in Niceville, Fla.

His first high school job came in 1982 at Union Academy in Union, S.C. He was the assistant men's and women's soccer coach at Colby Sawyer College in New London, N.H. from 1988-1983. He's been coaching at the high school level since 1998.

Duff is moving with his family to Mitchell. His son, Pete, will play for the Dakota Wesleyan men's soccer team as a freshman this coming fall.

"He's coached at the Division III men and women's level," Werner said of Duff. "It was one of those accidents as to how he was hired. I met him back in February. We knew Bob wanted to coach his daughter at some point and it was one of those situations where everything fell into place for the right reason. We had a job opening and it's a good thing all around."


Werner said the selling point for her on Duff was his camaraderie he had when he met with the United team.

"The boys have already met him and the litmus test for me was how the boys reacted to him," Werner said. "They loved him. We never had any hard feelings with Bob because he was just sliding over to coach the girls. It's just one of those things that worked out for some reason. Somebody was looking out for us."

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