Dan Woog retires as Staples boys soccer coach after 19 seasons

After 19 seasons, Dan Woog has retired as the Staples boys soccer coach.

Staples won the FCIAC four times under Woog and he led the Wreckers to three CIAC Class LL championship games, winning it all in 2009.

This past season, the Wreckers reached the Class LL semifinals, losing 1-0 to eventual champion Farmington in what would be Woog’s last game.

Woog said the 2021 team was one his most special groups of players.

“I can say I love them and they left it all out on the field,” Woog said after the semifinal game. “I can say the Farmington coach, who has a fantastic team, said they hadn’t been pushed like that all year. In all the years I have coached, I haven’t seen a run like this or a group like this. Their chemistry, their attitude, their professionalism and caring for each other. You name it, I have never had a group like this.”

On Friday, Woog released a statement announcing he was retiring:

“With a full heart, great joy, and tremendous appreciation for countless friendships and a lifetime of memories, I have chosen this time to retire as head coach of the Staples High School boys soccer program.

“This is a perfect time to make way for the next generation of coaches. Our program is strong and vibrant. We’re coming off a very successful season, with one of the greatest groups of seniors I’ve ever worked with. Our superb staff has ensured that the pipeline continues.

“I began coaching in 1975 — the same year I graduated from Brown University. I coached dozens of teams — including sub-varsity at Staples — and in 2003, was named head coach. I am only the third permanent varsity coach in the program’s 63 years.

“Working with thousands of athletes; traveling the globe with teams, spending 19 years in the magnificently intense world of varsity soccer, and playing a small part helping boys become young men — on and off the field — has been the privilege of my life.

“I’ve coached players who went on to play in MLS, and who won national college championships (as player and coach). I’ve coached players who have gone on to make their mark on the world in a wide variety of professions, and on their communities as volunteers. Soccer has impacted them all, in many ways. They have impacted me, too — many of them profoundly. I would not be who I am without them.

“Similarly, my life has been enriched by so many colleagues: coaches I’ve worked with, and competed against. Administrators, trainers, teachers, soccer volunteers — all have made me a better person.

“I am proud of the state championship we won at Staples, our four FCIAC titles, and the many teams that fell just a game or two short. I am equally proud of the 18 Academic All-American awards we have won for team GPA, and of the tens of thousands of dollars we’ve raised for scholarships, and causes like cancer research and underserved youth.

“I often say ‘There’s more to life than soccer, and there’s more to soccer than soccer.’ I’m still not sure what that means, but I have gotten more out of this game than I ever could have imagined.

“I’m leaving coaching, but not the game. I’ll continue my work with United Soccer Coaches at the national level — concentrating on high school and LGBTQ advocacy issues — and with the Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association. I’ll keep writing for Soccer America.

“And of course, I’ll cheer for Staples soccer from The Hill at Loeffler Field. I’m told it’s the best spot in the state to watch a match.”