When the 2012 Preston High School soccer season kicks off later this summer, there will be several changes.
Most notably, new head coaches will be patrolling the sidelines for both the Preston boys and girls programs.
Brandon Lyon, the head boys coach for the past nine seasons, has moved over to the girls program and will take over for Dee Dee Ford, who resigned after four seasons at the helm. Replacing Lyon as the boys coach will be former Preston player Robert Bowles, who was an assistant coach last year.
Bowles will inherit a program fresh off its best season in school history. The Indians went 17-3 in 2011 and finished sixth at the 4A state tournament — Preston’s first appearance at the eight-team tourney since moving up a classification in 2004.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Bowles said. “Landon’s (Broadhead) about our only senior returning with a lot of experience, so it’s a young team, but we’ve got a really bright future because we’ve got a lot of juniors and then Jorge (Sanchez) ... who are returning. The sky’s the limit going forward.”
Bowles graduated from Preston in 2003 and was a member of the school’s first three teams. The Fairview native played left wing for the Indians.
“I’ve loved soccer my whole life,” said Bowles, who joked he had to convert his football-playing family into becoming soccer supporters. “I don’t know if I ever foresaw becoming a head coach this quickly, but I’ve always wanted to be involved with soccer.”
Following high school, Bowles served an LDS Church mission in Florianopolis, Brazil, and graduated from Utah State with bachelors and masters degrees. The 26-year-old earned a bachelors degree in animal science and finished his masters degree in education a little more than a year ago.
Bowles will soon start his second academic year as a chemistry teacher at Preston and is married to Sky View graduate Sarah (Wilson) Bowles. The couple currently reside in Fairview and have a 10-month-old boy, who was born the week of tryouts last season.
“I think Preston’s a wonderful place to raise a family and to be around, and the people up here are great,” Bowles said. “Some of the teachers I teach with now have taught me, Brandon helped coach me, and just being around those people that shaped me into who I am has been a great opportunity.”
Lyon is confident Bowles is the right man for the job, and that made his decision to change programs a bit easier.
“It honestly was a tough of a decision as I’ve ever made,” said Lyon, who is also the school’s head track and field coach and an assistant girls basketball coach. “It killed me to sit in a room with those boys and tell them what I was doing, because they have meant so much to me in my growth as coach and just learning how to build a program. I never could have done it if they didn’t buy into what I was asking of them.”
During Lyon’s nine years at the helm, the Preston boys posted a record of 70-70-15. However, the Indians went 36-12-4 over his final three seasons. Lyon led the Indians to the state playoffs in 2003, which was the Indians’ final season at 3A, and 2011.
Lyon’s daughter, Abigail, is a huge soccer fan — “that’s all she wants to do is play soccer” — and the opportunity to coach her in the future was too tempting to pass up.
“Like I said, it’s still five years away, but if I didn’t make the jump now who’s to say it would be available (when my daughter’s in high school),” Lyon said. “And I know a lot of the girls from coaching basketball and track, and so to have the chance to help them and coach them along the way before they move on is kind of the driving forces behind it — the main thing being my daughter.”
The Fifth, Idaho, native made it a point to thank everyone for standing behind his program, even when it struggled to win matches from 2006-08.
“I wouldn’t have traded it for any job, anywhere,” Lyon said. “And the reality is, is in today’s day in age with so many issues that go on with coaches and struggles they have with players and parents, for the nine years I was the head coach I had the best boys you could ask for. I never had any issues, and I had the most support of parents that I could have asked for.”
Lyon taught math at Preston Junior High for several years, but will be moving to the high school this upcoming academic year.
Lyon will inherit a program that hasn’t won a district championship at the 4A level, but has been relatively successful under Ford. Ford finished with a winning record in three of her four seasons as head coach and posted an overall record of 36-24-1.
“I really enjoyed working with the girls, thought it was a lot of fun,” Ford said.
The Lady Indians were only one victory away from a state tournament appearance in 2008. Preston, which lost the second of two state play-in matches, went 13-6 that season.
“I think the girls worked really hard and they’ve got some good potential this year, and I wish them the best. I hope they find the success they’re looking for. ... I wish Brandon the best this next year and I hope they do really well.”
Ford, who had been with the girls program for a total of seven seasons, is in the process of starting an afterschool running program for fourth-sixth graders. Ford, who is an avid distance runner herself, teaches fifth grade at Oakwood Elementary in Preston.
“Hopefully I can still provide something back to the community (with this program),” Ford said. “I feel like I still have something there to offer. ... We’re promoting a healthy lifestyle and it’s a lifestyle for life because you can be a runner for the rest of your life, basically.”