When asked about what he’d remember the most from his four years at Tenino, soccer coach Kevin Schultz didn’t list the wins, the records and history set.
He didn’t mention that under his tutelage, the girls program won their first two state games in program history.
He didn’t bring up that the boys team, coming off three straight seasons without a single win, won four games his first year and are 5-2 in the early going this season.
What Schultz will remember the most, is the community of Tenino, which has been unlike anything he’s encountered before as a long-time coach in Lewis and South Thurston counties.
After four seasons at the helm of the Beaver girls and boys soccer programs, Schultz is stepping down at the conclusion of the boys soccer season this spring to take the open men’s soccer head coaching position at South Puget Sound Community College.
“I’ll remember all the players’ hard work and willingness to get on the field, how we built something,” Schultz said. “We got a lot of wins and losses but it wasn’t just about that, it was about the town coming here. The people and community support you, and the kids showed up. I’ll remember that.”
Schultz’s success is directly tied to the growth in almost all of Tenino’s athletic programs, where, when he took the reins of both programs in 2018, the Beaver girls program had never won a state game, and the boys hadn’t won a game period in three years.
After four years, Schultz’s girls went 57-14-3, and turned into a league powerhouse alongside the likes of perennial power Montesano.
Schultz says he’ll always remember after the Beavers hosted a playoff game against South Whidbey in 2019, the stadium was absolutely packed in fans clad in black and red.
That game was the first state playoff win in program history, a 1-0 Beavers victory.
“I’ll remember that photo forever,” Schultz said. “It was incredible. It's been a blessing to be a coach, the one thing that has blown me away is the way they worked super hard to change the culture and identity of sports around here. I think it started with that girls soccer state run, it’s really bled into everything we do here.”
The boys, who endured their fair share of struggles in the years leading up to Schultz’s arrival, also vastly improved over four years. The Beavers won four games in their first season under Schultz, and after a canceled 2020 season, the Beavers won eight games last spring over the shortened season.
This year, the Beavers are already 5-2 and have four wins in league.
Schultz’s impact was felt across the entire area, with coaches and figures from several schools commenting on the coach’s departure on social media.
“Schulty is one of my best friends and we talk almost daily,” Trev Elliott, an assistant basketball coach and good friend of Schultz, tweeted. “I can’t say enough about his deep passion for Tenino’s soccer programs. He absolutely put his entire heart into each of those kids in his time there.”
Schultz’s assistant, keeper coach, and confidant, Dave Montgomery said: “Thank you for bringing me on as an assistant coach and becoming a great friend. I’ve had many great coaching experiences but the last four years takes the cake. I’ll miss patrolling the sidelines with you but I am excited for your next adventure.”
Tenino senior Alivia Hunter was also one of many players that took to social media to congratulate the coach. Hunter was a part of a huge senior class that made history on the Black Top, a product of Schultz’s program-altering tenure.
“Playing for you for the last four years was a dream and I can’t wait to keep up on your continued success as a coach,” Hunter said on Twitter. “Thank you for the last four years, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
But now, Schultz is looking to build something new at the college ranks. Coaching collegiately has always been on the radar for Schultz, and after the position had opened and the SPSCC athletic department reached out, he finally applied.
Just a few weeks after applying, Schultz found out he got the job. Though it’s new, and the prospect of recruiting against other schools for Lewis and Thurston County kids alike is fresh, he’s excited for the challenge.
“It’s a new challenge, we’ve been really successful in Tenino,” Schultz said. “It’s been really hard, up until they offered the job, it’s been super tough for me. “College is something that’s a lot tougher. Getting the ability to go out and recruit players and getting to build a program and build a team is exciting.”
But no matter how far Schultz takes SPSCC, fresh off some tough times themselves, the longtime area assistant coach and Tenino man will never forget what the city and community gave him and his players.
“I’m really excited to see it grow, there’s still a lot of people here that are going to continue to do the work and build this.”