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Sports

Walsh soccer field honors legacy of longtime coach

8/28/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Photo courtesy of Angela Kissner
CUYAHOGA FALLS — The Walsh Jesuit High School boys soccer program has existed for 36 years. For the first 35 of those years, John Kissner roamed the sidelines, leading the team to an incredible level of success, and to honor his achievements, the school has officially named its soccer field John Kissner Soccer Field.

“I think it’s a tremendous honor, obviously,” said Kissner, shown above next to the field. “I’m very humbled because I didn’t expect anything like this to happen. It was a great 35-year experience — a tremendous journey for myself and my family.”

The official naming dedication took place Aug. 2 in front of a crowd that included many of his friends, family and former players. Kissner said it was only appropriate they were on hand to share the honor with him.

“All of the success and the achievements are wonderful, but the bottom line is that I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet so many great people,” he said. “A lot of people were involved in the success that we’ve had with the Walsh Jesuit soccer program. It took a lot of people to accomplish what we did. I was a small piece of the accomplishment, and for me to have this soccer field named after me is a blessing.”

During Kissner’s career at Walsh, his teams won three state championships and finished second in the state five other times. He was named Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association in 2008.

“The highlight was winning the first state championship in any sport at Walsh [in 1982],” he said. “It took us about four and a half seasons to do that, but we were the first, and that’s something I’m very proud of.”

Kissner, 66, retired as Walsh’s head coach following the 2012 season.

Kissner said he believes he left the Walsh soccer program “in good hands.”

“Scotty Zackaroff is one of my former players, and he was my assistant coach for my last two years,” he said. “I felt confident that he would continue the success that we’ve had. As the team’s head coach, I think he will continue to run the program the way that we have always hoped.”

As for the John Kissner Soccer Field, the coach said he “couldn’t be prouder” of his namesake.

“It was built in 1997 through donations, and a lot of parents put a lot of work into it,” he said. “It’s one of the top quality fields in the state, if not the entire nation. It’s a beautiful facility in a beautiful setting. The quality of the field is top-notch and it’s wonderfully manicured. It’s an incredible place to play this beautiful game.”

— By Sean Patrick

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