McCracken County boys soccer coach Michael Wiersema has been named one of 41 coaches from different states (and internationally) to receive the fourth-annual “High School Coach of Significance” award from the United Soccer Coaches, in association with the High School Coaches Advocacy Group.

The honor, which “recognizes members who are coaching for character and using the soccer field to teach life lessons at the high school level,” comes as a complete surprise to Wiersema, who’s approaching his 600th career win.

“This came out of nowhere,” he said. “I know some of the men on that list and I am honored to be alongside them.”

According to the HSCAG, the award serves as a chance for each state to “recognize coaches who are making an impact within their schools and communities, well beyond their records of wins and losses.”

“Among the various achievements and plaudits to which one may aspire as a coach, the loftiest is to be known as a coach who has touched lives and shaped people,” wrote Kevin Sims, United Soccer Coaches President, in a release. “This is the essence of the teacher-coach. I salute and thank all of the recipients of the High School Coach of Significance Award for understanding that first, we are coaches of people. To develop responsible adults and contributing citizens through the beautiful game of soccer fulfills the calling of high school coaches.”

This fourth annual class represents a total of 40 states and one coach leading a high school program on a U.S. military base in Japan.

The goal is to annually recognize a recipient from all 50 states.

”The High School Coaches Advocacy Group could not be more excited or proud to honor this fine collection of high school coaches from across the nation,” said Howie Putterman, High School Advocacy Group Chair. “This particular accomplishment speaks to the ‘why’ behind our coaching — that innate desire to coach the whole player, both on and off the pitch. Interscholastic athletics is about more than winning, and these fine coaches have demonstrated that they can coach at a high level and still spend time and energy teaching players to become a positive force. High School Coaches of Significance make a difference in their communities while helping grow and develop future leaders. Congratulations to this year’s outstanding coaches. Your significance in your players’ lives is your ultimate accomplishment.”

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