Passion and pressure lead to success for professor and coach

BOBBY JOHNSON | STAFF REPORTER

The soccer ball rolled to Stephanie Kaylor, who drilled it into the top-left corner of the net—tying the game, and unleashing the passion of her high school coach. 

Kaylor, a senior elementary education major, said as she turned toward the bench, she was greeted by the sight of Coach James Michael Brady, running and yelling along the sideline.

“He is very passionate about soccer,” Kaylor said. “I can say that.”

Brady, an adjunct professor in the College of Communication, has a passion for soccer. He has coached the Noblesville varsity girls’ high school soccer team for the past 12 years. 

Noblesville finished the season tied for third in the final 2A state rankings.

“I think, when you are passionate, it exhibits itself in a lot of different ways,” Brady said. 

Brady, who grew up in Newport Beach, California, and attended Corona del Mar High School, said he was introduced to soccer as a young boy. His older brother played for the University of North Carolina, and Brady said he could have played soccer at the Division III level but decided against it after his senior year at Corona del Mar. 

“I was just fortunate that I was in places where soccer started years before it did in places like the Midwest,” Brady said. “So I always had opportunities to play on club teams and play growing up.”

Brady started his soccer coaching career 18 years ago when he took the job as boys’ junior varsity soccer coach in Noblesville. Despite having little coaching experience, he said he saw an opportunity to fill a need and fulfill a passion at the same time.   

“I thought I did not know how much I know about coaching, but I will coach the junior varsity boys’ team,” Brady said. “And then my passion for soccer—like my passion for teaching—took over.” 

Brady, who switched over to coaching the varsity girls at Noblesville 12 years ago, has received numerous coaching awards during his career. He has been district coach of the year and Indianapolis Star Coach of the Year.

However, he attributes his success to the talented teams he has coached.

“I have won a number of individual accolades,” Brady said. “But I think the thing that I am most proud of in 10 years, I don’t know if we have been outside of the top 10 in the state in the 12 years. It is just always having fielded that competitive team, and if you talked to anybody about women’s soccer in the state of Indiana, my school would be one that was mentioned.”

His most memorable team was his 2008 girls’ varsity team that went 19-1-2 and he even heard that ESPN showed a “clipping” of them, Brady said. 

“We played 22 games and never gave up a goal,” he said. “We lost in penalty kicks in the semistate, which is played the morning before the finals, and the team that beat us went on to win the championship 4-0. So we were a penalty kick away from being state champions.”

Kaylor said throughout her high school career playing for Brady at Noblesville, her team was always mentioned as one of the top teams in the state in the newspaper. 

“There were times where we were ranked first and, honestly, it changed so much,” Kaylor said. “And we were always in at least top 10, most of the time top five, throughout my four years.”     When asked about his biggest coaching challenge, he said that it is dealing with parents. Even though it is good that they “want what’s best for their child,” Brady said parents are often subjective, and he must be objective as a coach. 

“It is just sometimes their daughters don’t play games, or their daughter makes JV when they wanted them to make varsity, so it is not a bad thing to have to deal with parents,” Brady said. “But it is one of those things that I understand the emotion involved in their parenting of their kid.”

Brady’s success can be attributed to his ability to create a joking, light mood for his players, Kaylor said, because a more serious mood might have negatively impacted her and her teammates. 

“He was able to pull out that humor and make us laugh and just make it fun for us, unlike some other teams I can remember we played in high school,” Kaylor said. 

Kaylor said Brady helped her develop a deeper passion for the game of soccer.

“He taught me some things about the game that I’m not sure that I would have ever learned if it was not for him,” Kaylor said. “Then I think his passion rubbed off on me, and playing with the group of girls that I was able to play with, and our talent that we brought in.”

As long as Brady’s passion remains, he said, so will his days as a soccer coach and teacher.

“I do not see my life changing too much, because I enjoy it,” Brady said. “If any of the three elements we keep taking about—high school, college or coaching—ever changed how I felt about them, yeah, I would do something different, but I do not see that being the case.”

Brady said he thinks the team has yet to reach its full potential.

“I mean, I think when we think we have reached our peak, we are just fooling ourselves,” Brady said.

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