COLUMBIA — Hickman soccer coach Adam Taylor let out an exuberant cheer as he ran on the field jumping and spinning in circles, celebrating his team’s 1-0 victory Tuesday in the Class 3, District 9 semifinals at Hickman.
The win was a special one for Taylor. He and his team have been through a season full of change, highlighted by the resignation of former coach Larry Thornburg in the beginning of October. At the time, Taylor was an assistant on the coaching staff.
Senior forward George Plakorus, who scored the winner for Hickman, said it took some time for the team to adjust to its new coach.
“We had to go through the realization that he’s (Thornburg) not the coach anymore,” Plakorus said. “It took us a couple of practices to get used to the fact that coach Taylor is now our coach, and we need to pay attention and listen to what he has to say.”
Plakorus said he and his teammates were stunned when they first heard the news of Thornburg’s resignation. At the time, Taylor, 25, gathered the team and told them they had the control to determine the way the rest of the season played out.
“I just told them let’s move forward, whatever happened, happened,” Taylor said. “Whatever happens from this point on is the team you guys are going to make yourselves.”
The style of Hickman’s attack changed with its coach. Plakorus said Taylor incorporated more passing and movement. Players were also given more freedom to shoot the ball in more situations. Plakorus said he thinks the changes have improved the team.
Taylor said the hardest part about the switch from assistant to head coach were the little aspects. He now has to handle substitutions and decide when to do which drills during practices.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t do as an assistant coach that you do as a head coach,” Taylor said. “It’s a whole different world.”
Taylor brought his own coaching style to the Kewpies. Plakorus said that while the coach may be a big yeller during matches, he has a calm demeanor throughout practices. Taylor gives positive feedback, even when his players make mistakes.
While his demeanor may be calm, the young coach is a bundle of energy on the sidelines. At one point during the second half of Hickman’s victory over Rock Bridge on Tuesday, Taylor sprinted full speed down the sideline to contest a call he felt was wrong.
He refused to sit still throughout the match. He crouched. He stood up. He crossed his arms. He paced along the sideline. His body didn’t allow him to relax on the bench.
As the clock ticked down to under six minutes in the game, Taylor moved a few yards from his bench and crouched down by himself. He held on to his hair as Rock Bridge had opportunity after opportunity to score.
“I’m a young guy, but that’ll make you old, those last six minutes,” Taylor said. “We kept our composure.”
Taylor is the coach on an interim basis. He doesn’t know if he will hold the position beyond this year. But with a district championship game to be played Thursday, he’s not worrying about his future.
“We haven’t talked about that part of it yet,” Taylor said. “We’re focused on 2009 right now.”