Prep boys' soccer Coach of the Year: Wasatch's Dawain Wheatley
The traits Dawain Wheatley saw from his team were genuine and ingenuity.
A group that grew up playing together stayed together on a three-month roller coaster that featured dominating wins and down-to-the-wire escapes. Wheatley, a staple of high school boys' soccer in the state since the early 1990s, was there through it all to marvel at a rare cocktail of talent, drive and passion.
"They really wanted their teammates to be successful, and when you want your teammates to be successful, that makes for one heck of a team," Wheatley said. "It was really hard to see a selfish player. They just found a way to win."
The team's 20-0 record is noteworthy. Ditto for the second state title in three years. But Wheatley's balancing act was what makes him the Coach of the Year.
When Wasatch squandered a 3-1 lead at home in the Class 3A quarterfinals against Dixie, the typically collected Wheatley boiled. He grabbed the brim of his cap and squeezed. He barely could sit still on the water cooler as his team, previously undefeated, suddenly was on the ropes.
He wanted it as badly as the kids. When a player came off the field, he asked what they were seeing out there. He asked what they did right and what they needed to look beyond.
Then there was meshing the talent. He had goal-scorers and assist men and guys who thwarted opposing defenses, players who moved to defense when they could have been integral parts of an explosive offense.
When asked if this was the best team he's had during his three-decade run in Heber, Wheatley paused and said promptly, "Yes, I think so."
"I think the overall technically ability and the gumption of digging deep when things were a little challenging was what made the difference," he said.
And attention to detail. Practices were arguably as physical and strenuous as matches, and the Wasps studied each opponent as a threat to the streak and its eventual run to the crown.
"We treated every single game as important as the next," Wheatley said.