Tyler Hamilton sees a silver lining in the cloud that hangs over high school athletics in Illinois.
Hours before the Illinois High School Association announced football, boys soccer and girls volleyball have shifted from normal fall schedules to a spring season on July 29, Hamilton was named the new boys soccer coach at Alton High.
It was not the news he was hoping for, but Hamilton is choosing to see the bright side of his new role.
The Alton alum will have seven extra months to get his program ready. The restructured boys soccer schedule is slated to begin with practices Feb. 15 and runs through May 1. Games can begin March 1.
“It's helpful that I'm going to get to know the boys a little bit more,” said Hamilton, a 2013 graduate. “I'll get to work with them with the few contact days that we get to have in the fall. It will be tough because we can't do any contact drills. I won't be able to see them play until some of the restrictions come off.”
Hamilton returns to Alton after two seasons as the Piasa Southwestern boys soccer coach and three seasons at the helm of the girls squad. He went 5-22 with the boys and will remain at the helm of the Piasa girls, who are 15-15-3 under his leadership. Girls soccer will begin on May 3 as part of the IHSA's new "summer" season.
“It is great having a former Redbird come back to the program to lead us into this new decade,” Alton athletics director Chris Kusnerick said. “Tyler brings with him some excellent experience as a previous head coach, college assistant as well his experience as a former player playing at a high level on the club level in the St. Louis area. We are excited for the energy he plans to bring to the program to build enthusiasm in the community as well as among the soccer players in our program.”
Hamilton replaces Nick Funk, who coached Alton to a 36-34-10 record in two seasons.
Hamilton, who played club soccer with St. Louis Scott Gallagher and went on to play at Culver-Stockton College and McKendree University, is hoping to help the Redbirds improve their standings in the Southwestern Conference. They were 8-16-3 against league foes over the last two years.
“It's pretty exciting because that conference, in the state of Illinois, is one of the top ones around,” Hamilton said. “So, if you're competitive in it, you're going to be competitive with any teams in the state. There is good talent here and you know it's going to be that way. As long as the work rate is there, things are going to be great. I'm excited. I feel like we can come in and be competitive in our conference and, hopefully, that rolls into the postseason. If we have a postseason, that is.”
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