The trophies are stacked on top of one another over three shelves. There are so many that the glass case is packed tighter than the Metrolink after a Cardinals game. Eating up whatever room is left are autographed soccer balls and various other memorabilia that come from year after impressive year.
Bill Daues might have imagined this in his wildest dreams but it would only be there, in his imagination, where you’d find this wealth of success.
Daues, 61, began his 22nd season at the helm of the Whitfield boys soccer team last week. A St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame inductee in 2008 and the 2011 St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame Coach of theYear, Daues has guided theWarriors to seven Class 1 state championships the last nine seasons.
As Whitfield enters this season, it has plenty of questions. Fourteen seniors graduated from last year’s title team. Gone are the wily veterans and their varsity experience. In their place is a crop of fresh faces that will have to learn the hard way what it takes to play at the varsity level. Because of the name on the front of their shirt, they’ll have a target squarely on their back. Whitfield has handed out its share of broken dreams during its impressive run. Payback just comes with the territory.
And when you’ve had a run of success like Whitfield, expectations are always high. Daues, though, says there are things that he keeps his team focused on. State championships aren’t among them.
“It’s going to be on everyone’s mind,” Daues says. “From our perspective, we don’t even talk about that. We want to get better all the time. It’s all about the process.” The process, as he calls it, is as much a part of Daues as his eye color and his fingernails. It’s something that became ingrained in him as kid kicking the ball around South City. A St. Mary’s graduate (class of 1967), Daues grew up in St. Anthony’s parish. That’s where his love for the game first blossomed.
Daues played college ball at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park for two years and then transferred to Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State). He was an assistant coach at Washington University for four years. In that time Washington University would play for three national titles. He spent 10 years as the head coach at Maryville University before joining Whitfield as its soccer coach and athletic director.
All that experience has given Daues a wealth of knowledge, both tactical and managerial. He can adjust his game plan from season to season but he has to do so while managing the players he has at his disposal.
If nothing else, Whitfield’s dramatic success in spite of its size is jaw-dropping. With only 265 coed students, there just isn’t the depth that other schools can count on.
Daues has an added level of difficulty when you consider each team plays about 25 matches in a three month span.
“The high school season is so physically demanding that it transcends into mentally demanding as well,” Daues says. “Practice becomes almost nonexistent.”
That’s why he keeps his team focused on the process of developing. He says if the focus is based on results it can lead to wild swings throughout the grind of the season. The ups and downs, even for a program as strong as Whitfield, can drain the players’ emotional battery.
“You have to work with your players, you have to tell them to not get too high or too low,” Daues said. “You want them to take a mindset that’s pretty neutral.”
The schedule doesn’t do the Warriors many favors either. Daues takes on all comers. On the slate this season, and nearly every season, are a host of large schools like CBC, DeSmet, Chaminade and defending Class 2 champion St. Mary’s.
The Warriors don’t back down from anyone—and they shouldn’t. As long as they trust the process, everything should be fine.