Dan Finnerty – Sports Writer
Franklin High School (FHS) soccer recently completed a successful season, keeping the winning streak alive until the semifinal match in the State Tournament. In addition to numerous individual player awards and nominations, Head Coach Matt Kolodzik was recognized at both the conference and regional levels. After being named Mountain 7 Conference Coach of the Year, he then received the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association (NCSCA) Region 11 Coach of the Year award as well. Kolodzik was quick to point out, “I told my coaches that those awards are for all of us [I am] not doing this on my own, that’s for sure.”
Individual player recognitions include:
– Noel Rivera-Villa (Senior Forward-33 goals, 1 assist) – Mountain 7 Conference Offensive Player of the Year; NCSCA All-Region and All-State Nominations
– Luke Vanhook – Honorable Mention, Goalkeeper of the Year
– Ulises Padron-Perez (Junior Midfielder – 11 goals, 13 assists) – NCSCA All-Region and All-State Nomination
All Conference Players:
– Isaiah Roots (Senior Forward-8 goals, 3 assists, 19 steals)
– Aaron Jennings (Junior Defender-1 Goal, 97 Steals)
– Jaydon Pevia (Junior Defender-57 Steals)
Kolodzik just finished his fifth year as head coach of the FHS soccer program and said, “It’s been an awesome ride!” He started playing soccer at five years old. He progressed to playing club soccer in Florida and at one point was trained as a goalkeeper by the Orlando Lions. The Lions are now known as Orlando City SC (soccer club). Kolodzik played three different sports growing up: soccer, basketball, and volleyball.
Prior to coaching at FHS, Kolodzik coached at the middle school level for two years. Before that, he was president of the Macon County Soccer Club from 2011-2018. During his time at the club, he worked toward and attained his FIFA (Federation International Football Association)/United States Soccer Federation (USSF) D-license. Working toward the license required multiple years and levels of training and courses. He continues to further his coaching education whenever possible.
Kolodzik reflected on his coaching time.
“It’s been a blessing to maintain the same core coaches throughout my tenure at the school. That consistency has certainly helped us increase our winning percentage each of the last five years. I owe any personal accomplishments to the entire staff.”
Looking back at the just-completed soccer season, Kolodzik was enthusiastic about program accomplishments.
“This has been a year of breakthroughs … with our first conference title since 2014 and only the 2nd title in the history of men’s soccer at FHS. We beat Hendersonville for the first time in the history of the soccer program. We became the first men’s team to play in The Panther Pit!”
Kolodzik pointed out that credit must also go to a special group of 11 seniors who were natural leaders and “sacrificed for the good of the team whenever possible.”
While losing a large class of senior players from this year, he will have a similar number of seniors next year. As the reigning Coach of the Year, Kolodzik concluded by observing that “each year brings new opportunities for underclassmen to step up the next year to help carry on high expectations of the program; this helps grow and carry on the winning tradition we’ve hoped to create.”