Bill DeJarnette is no stranger to the St. Joseph-Ogden soccer program.
DeJarnette was the first coach of the SJO soccer team in 2009. Now, he will be the head coach once again after being hired to replace Dan Vogelsang who resigned at the end of the 2019-20 season.
DeJarnette laid the foundation for a strong soccer program during the 2009-10 season despite the team only going 2-14-2.
“I’m not sure that many people remember or not, but I was the first person to pitch the idea for a high school soccer program at St. Joseph-Ogden,” DeJarnette said. “We had a lot of younger players at various youth levels and would play in the Urbana league with the kids from over there.”
Even though soccer was a popular option for the youth of St. Joseph, DeJarnette wanted to take things a step further by adding a more competitive group to play around the area on weekends.
“I compiled a group of junior high aged kids, mainly from St. Joseph, but a few from Urbana to balance the roster out. We would go around and play teams from Gibson City, Tuscola, and other towns on Saturdays and we had a lot of great fun doing it. But we had some difficulty with process between parents and the school board, and for some reason, it just didn’t happen at that time,” DeJarnette added regarding laying the groundwork for what would eventually become an IHSA program.
DeJarnette had plenty of experience in coaching soccer at various age levels, starting the girls’ program at Champaign Centennial, and then moving across to Urbana to start programs at Uni High for both boys and girls.
“It all boils down to body count, and at Centennial, we had 60-70 girls out each year for the first three years after starting their program after inheriting a high school-aged group of girls to coach,” DeJarnette said. “Then, I moved over to Uni High to coach boys in the fall and girls in the spring and stayed there coaching for a number of years. However, none of that would have been possible had I not coached at the park district for several years before that.”
Once the high school was ready to make the pitch to start a program, the coordinator of the youth program called on DeJarnette to help make a presentation to the school board.
DeJarnette did his homework and studied the impact a soccer program would have on other sports as well as researching how quickly a team could be placed on the field.
Again, that first season didn’t go very well, but as more players became aware of the program and started playing themselves, the record slowly began to get better with time.
DeJarnette hopes that the season will begin on schedule, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-in-place order that the state of Illinois is currently under, that plan may need to be modified.
“We cannot work with any of the athletes now, but they can be working on drills themselves so that when we finally do come together as a team, we will be able to hit the ground running. We don’t necessarily need a lot of time if everyone does their part in the off-season,” DeJarnette said.