MARYVILLE — First-year Father McGivney Catholic High School is more then six months away from playing its first soccer game
But with the announcement on Thursday that Highland native Tim Vance has been hired as its first coach, the Griffins have reached their first goal.
Vance, 24, who coached the Mater Dei girls team that reached the Class 1A Columbia Sectional title game a year ago, will be the head coach in both boys and girls soccer beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
"It's really exciting. Not only to coach both the boys and girls, but to build it (the program) from scratch. It's almost like it's my baby,'' Vance said. "It makes me nervous just to think about it. But 5-to-10 years from now, it's kind of neat. Not only to build a soccer program, but also to help build the school.''
For Vance, the decision to leave Mater Dei, a place where he played from 2003-06, was difficult. But he felt it was in his best interest for the future.
Vance was a key player when the Knights had their first winning season in 2005. He then played for Lewis University in Romeoville and was a member of a team that reached the NCAA Division II National Tournament during the 2009-10 season.
"It was a tough decision, and when I had to tell my girls at Mater Dei, it wasn't an easy thing to do,'' Vance said. "But I had to think long term in terms of coaching both boys and girls and a possible teaching job as well. I plan on going back to school and getting a teaching certificate."
Located on Wilma Drive in Maryville, Father McGivney Catholic High School will have a freshman and sophomore class in the 2013-14 school year and Vance said the plan is for both teams to play a freshman schedule.
Vance hopes to be able to have a varsity team at Father McGivney by the 2015-16 season. Plans are also in the making for a school to be built, hopefully by the 2015-16 year.
Included in the plans for the new school is a synthetic turf soccer field.
"We want to get the word out and get more kids into the school, but I think the biggest thing is getting the new school built,'' Vance said. "Once we do that, kids will see that we're serious about a Catholic education.''
Athletic Director Henry Johnson said that of the 19 freshmen currently enrolled, three or four boys have played and two or three girls have at least some soccer background. The school hopes to attract 25 to 30 freshmen for its 2013-2014 school year.
Johnson said Vance's soccer background was a key in the decision to hire him.
"We went and tried to get someone who had a connection with the youth soccer programs in the area. We got a lot of good reports that Tim had his foot in the door in that area,'' Johnson said. "Players and coaches know him and we feel that his name will help get kids to enroll here.''
Johnson also said that Father McGivney plans to have a boys and girls basketball program beginning in the 2013-14 season.
Vance is looking for his teams to be successful next year.
"I haven't seen our schedule, but I am hopeful that whether we're playing freshman or junior-varsity teams that we'll be successful next season. That's our goal,'' Vance said. "Five years from now, my goal is to have one of the top soccer programs in the St. Louis-area.''