Encouraging his team from the bench, there is a piercing, guttural energy behind the voice of Smithton head coach Sean Hutchinson.
Shouting is often necessary for strategists bound to the sideline with no timeouts. Hutchinson channels his enthusiasm for loud, heavy rock music — a passion he lived years ago as a vocalist for a metalcore band — to help reach the Tigers.
“Most of the stuff that I play, you wouldn’t hear on the radio,” Hutchinson said.
As coach of the newly-crowned Kaysinger Conference Soccer Tournament champions, Hutchinson is yelling a little less this season. The Tigers (9-5-1) ended a streak of 10 straight conference titles for Sacred Heart with a 1-0 victory Friday, Oct. 11 in Stover.
While the Tigers have improved their record each year since a two-win campaign in 2015, conquering the conference tournament currently serves as the high point of Smithton’s rebuild under Hutchinson.
“We knew that this was a year to make it happen,” Hutchinson said. “Since I had this core group of seniors as freshmen, I knew they were going to do something great in their senior year. There's a lot of talent and determination with them. ... Things have been slowly falling into place.”
Smithton senior Drew Steele said Hutchinson demonstrated faith in the Tigers through trying seasons.
“Our first two years were really rough,” Steele said. ”I was like, ‘Oh boy, this is going to be rough to turn our next few years into something special.’ It’s shown now.”
Steele said as a teacher, Hutchinson uses narrative to improve his lessons.
“With everything he’s talking about, he’s always trying to have a story to it,” Steele said.
Hutchinson, 32, said a lyrical touch and his hard-rock background has helped him connect with students. The band formed in 2006 and broke up in 2009, with one member going on to help form the Kansas City-based band, The Browning. He said that while metalcore music sounds abrasive, the artists and lyrics he enjoys defy a violent, intimidating stereotype.
“A lot of the music I listen to is really positive,” Hutchinson said. “Whenever you hear it, that’s the last thing you would expect. … It kind of gives a lesson that you can’t judge a book by its cover. There is a lot of positivity, and you just have to listen for it, or you have to look for it.”
Until recently, Hutchinson’s rocker background was embodied mostly by a long, dark beard. He shaved, for the first time in at least 10 years, after the Tigers won the conference tourney. Hutchinson’s first agreement that cost him facial hair was when Clinton defeated Warrensburg for the first time in program history.
“I tend to make deals with the soccer team,” Hutchinson said. “If they do something, I will shave. It’s always something that’s attainable, but it’s not going to be something that’s easy.”
Though he set the bar high, Hutchinson said he was not surprised the team reached his lofty goals.
“I’ve just got a really good core group of players that are dedicated to soccer,” Hutchinson said. “They know my coaching style. They know what I expect out of them. I think it just takes time to build a program up, or back up, to where it was. They’re willing to learn.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @abagueros2.