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Skyline coach Luis Chavez talks with junior Haley Balentine, right, and other players during a drill at soccer practice Friday.
Matthew Jonas
Skyline coach Luis Chavez talks with junior Haley Balentine, right, and other players during a drill at soccer practice Friday.

LONGMONT — For more than a decade, Kevin Puckett was the heart and soul of one of Skyline’s most successful athletic programs.

The girls soccer coach pushed the program to competitive heights, making them an annual threat in the Tri-Valley League and a regular in the Class 4A state tournament. With Puckett’s resignation after last season, prompted by the demands of running his family’s business, some might believe the Falcons are lost at sea.

But as Hannah Truesdale points out, nothing could be further from the truth. From the senior’s perspective, Skyline girls soccer could be in no steadier a hand than Luis Chavez’s.

“He’ll be a much different coach with a much different style,” the midfielder said. “But he also knows what he is doing and how to prepare a team.”

Chavez has already proved he has the motivational ability and soccer IQ to help the Falcons remain a competitive program. Having headed the boys team for the past three years, he has helped the program maintain its competitive edge.

Last fall, after graduation had stolen eight starters, the coach led the team to a nine-win season. Even Chavez was surprised with the success, having stated his original goal as a .500 record.

“They far exceeded my expectations,” he said.

Trusesdale confesses she did not keep close tabs on her new coach’s success this past year. But the midfielder is familiar with Chavez’s coaching ability, having worked with him through club soccer. From what the senior has seen of the coach, he has all the right attributes to help the Falcons soar.

The midfielder’s experience with Chavez has so impressed her that she lobbied for the coach as part of the selection committee.

“I knew he knew what he was doing,” she said. “He is also really good working with girls and kids. He the type of coach that you respect and respects you in return.”

Chavez anticipates some challenges in his first year, Skyline’s youth, for example. But he also expects to make some strides. One of the areas he would like to make the Falcons more dangerous is its attack.

On the field performance is only one aspect of what Chavez hopes to accomplish with his team. Similar to his work with the Falcon boys, the coach hopes to use soccer as a way to build school pride and performance. The discipline, focus and pride it takes to succeed on the pitch, in the opinion of the Falcons’ new girls coach, has the potential to translate over to the classroom and culture of the school as a whole.

“I’m excited about the opportunity, it’s an honor to help change the image of the school,” he said. “The soccer programs are an opportunity to instill a sense of pride as representatives of the institution.”

Follow Elwood on Twitter: @ElwoodKShelton.

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