Catalina Foothills will start school today without one of its most well-known coaches.
Charlie Kendrick, who led the Falcons’ girls soccer team to 249 wins and seven state titles, has left the program. However, the longtime coach will still have an impact on the program for years to come.
Kendrick took a new position with the Tucson Soccer Academy club team last summer, where he oversees player development for kids ages 11 and under. Several of the girls could move on to Foothills, Southern Arizona’s premier soccer power.
Kendrick said his role with the TSA along with coaching the Foothills girls team left him little time for much else. For Kendrick, a 39-year-old father of two boys, the move was about resetting his priorities.
“I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for 11 years with club soccer and high school soccer,” Kendrick said. “It really was just a matter of consolidating my work life a little bit so I could spend more time with my family.
“I’ve tried as hard as I can to take care of other people’s kids for 11 years, and I think it’s important I also take care of my own.”
Under Kendrick, the Falcons won state titles every year between 2010-13. Foothills again reached the Division II championship game last season but lost to Buckeye Verrado in penalty kicks. The loss was Kendrick’s first in the finals; he had won in each of his previous seven attempts.
“That will probably be my only regret,” Kendrick said. “I’m still disappointed for the kids in that game. I really wanted them to finish it off the right way but it just wasn’t going to happen for us that day.”
Kendrick said his predecessor, Christi Monroe, set the standard by winning the program’s first championship in the 2002-03 season.
“The standard was already set,” Kendrick said. “So when I took over the program I was aware of the level it was at, and I just wanted to keep it there if not try to improve it.”
Kendrick said he doesn’t expect a drop-off.
“There’s no doubt in my mind the kids are going to continue to be successful,” Kendrick said. “It’s really been the kids up there that have driven the program.
“I’ve always told them you could put a chimpanzee in my jacket and they’d play just as well.”
Kendrick said he’ll miss high school soccer, which can be more intense than the club scene even though the competition often isn’t as stiff.
Sahuaro coach David Kruszewski, who faced Foothills nine times in the last three seasons, said he will miss facing Kendrick but believes the Falcons will continue to be dominant force.
“Charlie was a class act and his teams were always prepared,” Kruszewski said. “They’ve had a dynasty going there for the last several years so it’ll be a loss for them and for all of Tucson because they’ve done such a great job with the program.”
Foothills assistant principal Jody Brase, previously the school’s athletic director, said the school will search for a replacement who shares Kendrick’s core values.
“The coaching was great but just the way he helped the team was with star quality as a person,” Brase said. “When you follow a legend it can be a challenge.”