All-Area Girls' Soccer COY: Joey Gruner
Why he’s Coach of the Year: The Bulldogs posted a 16-5 record and established a program record for wins in a season. M-S won the program’s fifth regional title and registered the first sectional win at the Class 2A level by beating Morris 3-1 in a sectional semifinal match. M-S lost 4-2 in the sectional title match to a Normal West team that placed second in state.
Season highlight: “Two things come to mind. One was certainly winning a regional in Urbana. We won a regional two years ago that was in Decatur, so it was really something for the girls to win a local one. Winning the sectional semifinal game was a big deal for us, too, since the program had never won a 2A sectional game. Those were both huge for us.”
A few of my favorites: Last text sent to my wife ... Favorite food is cinnamon rolls ... First job was mowing yards and shoveling snow around the neighborhood ... Role models are Randy Blackman, Neil Anderson and Janet Rayfield ... Sport I’d like to try is parasailing somewhere in South America where you jump off a mountain ... I’m driving a 2003 Dodge Neon. I adopted it from my daughter and then from my son. They left and went to college, and I got the car ... Favorite book is “Love Wins,” by Rob Bell ... Favorite restaurant is Outback Steakhouse ... Favorite athlete is Julie Parr ... Favorite entertainers are Mike and Frank from “American Pickers”
Three things on his bucket list: Watch Honduras in a World Cup game because I lived there for a couple years, go to the Rose Bowl parade and finish my master’s degree in sports management so I can work for a professional sports franchise or in a college athletic department
If I weren’t coaching, I’d want to work ... with a professional sports team, at a professional sports venue or with a college athletic department.
About Coach Gruner: “He really cares about the team in everything he does. He was talking about how he didn’t sleep that much for the whole two weeks leading up to the postseason, and that just really showed us that he cared a lot for us. He’ll do anything for us, but he really puts that aspect of team in there above all else, and how we should be supporting each other. We have field captains, but when it comes to games, he likes to give everyone that chance and not pick out certain people. He really focuses on not putting one person in the spotlight. Some teams might have one person scoring all their goals and their game plan might be get it to this person, but he really wants us to work together as a team and get as many people goals as we can to give as many people that moment in the spotlight.” — senior midfielder Sarah Van Wingerden