After 17 seasons, J.D. Hunter took to the home field for the last time as the Camdenton Girls Soccer Coach Friday night.
After 17 seasons, J.D. Hunter took to the home field for the last time as the Camdenton Girls Soccer Coach Friday night. Last year, Hunter was promoted to Assistant Principal at the high school and continued coaching the team for one more year knowing he would wrap up the season and his coaching career at the same time.
Before Friday night's game, Hunter told the Lake Sun he was feeling the usual pre-game jitters and trying 'not to focus on the finality of it.'
He described the night as 'bittersweet' and admitted that the end of coaching had not really hit him yet.
"It will be quite a shock," Hunter added.
Following Friday night's game against Lebanon — a whopping 10-0 win — a special recognition was held for Coach Hunter.
"I am humbled and honored," he said.
Former players, parents, fans, staff, students and current players all showed up to show their support for Hunter.
"This evening’s event is bittersweet for all of us. To be able to honor Coach Hunter for his past 17 years as the girls head soccer coach is great. It’s terrific to now have J.D. on the administrative staff but it’s a major loss to no longer have him as the leader of our girls soccer program," Athletic Director Jeff Whitney said. "He has done a tremendous job in building a program recognized state-wide and then sustaining it. Some coaches are good at building programs and some are good at sustaining a them. Coach Hunter has been exceptional at both."
When he began coaching the team 17 years ago, his intention was to coach for two years then to focus on teaching, but something changed his mind. He became close to his first freshmen class and decided to coach four years.
"There was always another freshmen class," Hunter said.
It's Hunter's bond with his players that will leave a lasting legacy in the Camdenton Soccer program.
"His positive influence on our young ladies has been tremendous. I can’t imagine how many invitations J.D. gets from his former players for their special events each year. He stays in touch with so many of them. To me that’s the true mark of a great coach. So many of his players want to keep him in their lives and he sincerely enjoys keeping them as a part of his life," Whitney said.
The team still has three away games and districts left this season. One thing is for sure, Hunter and his team will be cherishing the rest of the season this year more than years past.