After losing 11 graduating seniors and a head coach who is moving out of the state, the Marian Central boys soccer team was bound to look a lot different at the start of next season. With the coaching selection at least, the Hurricanes were able to maintain some continuity.
Marian Central athletic director Curtis Price announced last week that assistant coach Art Dixon has been promoted to head coach.
“I think the best thing for the program at this point in time is to just go in and continue its strides where it’s been at and build from that point on," Dixon said this week. "If you start messing with the chemistry of what it’s already got, then you’re starting all over, and I don’t believe this needs to start all over.”
Price agreed it was important to maintain a connection with the work the previous staff had done.
“Definitely, definitely,” the athletic director said. “He’s coming in and he knows the system, he knows the school, he knows our students, and I think the students and our community will have a positive response to watching him lead our soccer programs. That’s important for us to have a person like that.”
Dixon, who played high school soccer and graduated from Rolling Meadows High School in 1988, previously coached with the Johnsburg White Lightning club and joined the Hurricanes in 2015.
Dixon's predecessor, Jim Colvin, called him "a great guy," and added, "He’s super reliable and he’s always there to listen and talk, too. He's got his opinions that benefitted where we were headed with the program."
Over the past two seasons, Dixon has been an assistant coach for the varsity team while also coaching the freshman and junior varsity teams.
“He’s been learning as a coach, growing as a coach, making sure we work together on our training schedules so he was learning some of the things we were doing as we were trying to build the program," Colvin said.
Colvin praised Dixon's patience, discipline and attitude with the players. Price said that similar qualities were what stood out in interviewing Dixon.
“His dedication. His enthusiasm to help kids develop," Price said. "That’s something I look for in all our coaches. The high school student-athlete should be about development and making sure they have a great experience while they’re participating in sports at the high-school level. I feel that coach Dixon is going to bring that to our school. ...
“His main thing was getting more involved with the students and making sure that they’re going to have a great experience while they’re playing here. Yes, we are competitive to no end, but at the same time the high school game should be about making sure that student-athletes have a great experience.”
Dixon's two years working with the younger players in particular should be able to help him as those juniors and seniors step into bigger roles this season.
“I’ve been with most of the boys from freshmen to juniors so now it’s a great opportunity to see them grow," Dixon said. “... Each of the players that are coming into the team have good leadership ability, they communicate well. So I can see them growing from the time we start the season to the time we finish the season.”
Zach Taylor, a rising senior who played junior varsity for Dixon last year said he was excited when he heard the coach had been promoted.
“When I heard he was the new head coach I was really happy because I knew he would give me fair playing time and give me a chance to prove myself, because I’ve had him as a coach for two years, and I know he’s a fair coach and a fair man in general,” Taylor said.
Since the end of last season, Dixon has been working with many of the Hurricanes players on teams outside of the high school, Taylor said, with good results.
"He coached our rec team with basically all varsity Marian kids, and we won our division in both indoor and outdoor seasons," Taylor said. "So he definitely knows how to coach.”
The Hurricanes went 7-9-3 last fall, losing in the Class 2A regional semifinals. Marian Central won back-to-back 2A regional titles in 2013 and 2014 but fell short the past two seasons. The program has won seven regional titles, four sectionals and one supersectional to date.
Dixon doesn't believe they're far off from competing, saying he's inheriting a good group of kids with plenty of technical ability.
“It seems like they’re very excited about the same opportunities that I see," Dixon said.