A familiar face in the Gateway Athletic Conference soccer world is headed to Fort Zumwalt North.
Chad Baldwin, who coached the girls program at Fort Zumwalt South for the last five seasons and was at the helm of the boys and girls programs at Troy previously, was named the Panthers’ new coach on June 15.
Baldwin served as an assistant coach last season to Brian Kelleher, who retired at the end of the school year. Baldwin takes over the head role at the school where he teaches social studies.
“It makes life easier,” Baldwin said. “I was bouncing around — driving from North to South, not that it’s far — but you get to see the kids every day at the school and interact with them. It just makes it more enjoyable and easier to communicate information.”
Baldwin is 137-133-3 in 12 seasons as a coach. He was 55-71-1 in five seasons as the boys coach at Troy and went 82-62-2 in seven seasons as the girls coach at Troy and Fort Zumwalt South. The last five seasons he coached just the girls at Zumwalt South.
Baldwin takes over a Panthers squad that finished 18-6 last year in Kelleher's only season with the program. Fort Zumwalt North lost eight players to graduation after falling to Fort Zumwalt West in the Class 4 District 7 championship.
“We lost a lot of guys, so it’s kind of a rebuilding year,” Baldwin said. “My goals for any of my programs, at least at Troy and now North, is to compete for conference and district titles. For a rebuilding year, (the goal is) to be .500, I would say. This is similar to my last year at Troy because we’d graduated 13 guys. We had a pretty successful senior class (the year before). It’s just about going out and getting better every day.”
Fort Zumwalt North athletics director Ted Hickey said having a coach familiar with his players and students, and the conference is a plus.
“He’s a popular, well-liked teacher and he’s a guy that has a good background in the sport, obviously, so we feel very fortunate to have him on board,” Hickey said. “Coach Kelleher did a great job for us and I wanted to thank him for his years of service to the program.”
For the first time in his coaching career, Baldwin will have an added bonus on the sideline. His brother, Sean, who coaches the girls at Fort Zumwalt West, will serve as an assistant coach for the boys in the fall.
“I’m pretty excited about it. We’ve never worked together in a coaching capacity,” Baldwin said. “It’ll be fun.”
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