January 1 will be a historic day at Ardmore High School.
Previously known as the only Class 5A school that doesn’t have soccer, that moniker will be obsolete next year. Ryan Keeton will coach the Ardmore varsity boys soccer team, while Adam Sherfield will coach the Lady Tigers’ squad. The duo will also serve as each other’s assistant, Keeton said. As the Tigers prepare for a six-game inaugural season, Keeton will focus on offensive drills, while Sherfield will teach defensive concepts.
Then they’ll switch.
Keeton, a Class of 2005 Ardmore alumnus, coached soccer for a couple years at Ada. The 2016-17 school year is his fourth year teaching at his alma mater.
“I moved back home to be closer to the family,” he said. “When there was talk about soccer, I kind of talked to (current head football) coach (and athletic director Josh) Newby about being interested because I grew up playing soccer in Ardmore (through Ardmore Greater Oklahoma Association of League Soccer). It was an opportunity that I kind of wanted.”
Adam Sherfield and his wife, Tammy, moved to Ardmore from Hobbs, New Mexico, three years ago. He coaches middle-school football.
“I like coaching,” Sherfield said. “I coached golf last year. I had never coached golf before. I enjoyed it. I love learning about sports, being with the kids and having that relationship with them.
Once it was (officially approved the school board), coach Newby asked, ‘Are you in?’
“‘I’m all in.’”
Ardmore’s inaugural season will feature six games, Keeton said.
“Next year, we’re going to be thrown into district play,” he said.
Both coaches spoke enthusiastically and optimistically about the number of interested players.
“There’s been lots and lots of girls ask about it,” Sherfield said. “When it came out officially, and the eighth graders were going to take classes up at the high school, some would ask me, ‘Coach, what do I need to do for soccer? Is there a soccer class?’
“‘No, you just get into athletics and, after Christmas, we’ll start our athletic class.’
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we had 100 kids out there the first day of practice. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. That may be a little bit high, but we’ll have plenty, which is a good thing.”
Said Keeton, “Coaching football, I know some of the under-19 players, there’s about four or five of them that I know will be coming out to play soccer. Teaching at the middle school, I can kind of see who’s interested down there, so there’s going to be a lot of freshmen coming out, and I’m sure a lot of sophomores and juniors (will too).”
Both coaches noted how players have to maintain eligibility academically.
“If that can reach 10 or 15 more kids,” Keeton said, “then we’re accomplishing something.”
In 2015-16, Keeton coached freshman football, middle school basketball and track. This year, Keeton coaches freshman football. He’ll focus on soccer after the football season.
Since the coaches are already on staff (hired by the district), they are essentially reassigned. The move is treated as a reassignment, though the school will post the vacant positions in the district. Ardmore Schools Superintendent Sonny Bates said that typically the AD will make changes to coaching assignments to fill the vacant positions since usually coaches have more than one coaching assignment.
“I’m excited to be able to be the first Ardmore varsity head coach,” Keeton said. “It’ll be fun.
“I know Oklahoma’s going through budget cuts. I’m glad Ardmore City Schools is sticking with this because I know the community wants it. I know a lot of people in the community are excited for it.”
The Ardmoreite's Stephen Lamar contributed to this story.