WASHINGTON -- For more than a decade. Bill Stara has been one of the most successful high school and youth soccer coaches in Maryland history. Last night, he was recognized by his peers, named the United States Youth Soccer boys Coach of the Year at the 48th Annual National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention at the Sheraton Washington Hotel.
Voting was done by the NSCAA membership.
"It's extremely flattering," said Stara, the Centennial coach since 1982. "There's a lot of people [his assistant coaches, players and their families] who have put in a lot of work for this. I've been lucky."
In his 13 years at the Columbia school, Centennial has captured six state titles, including three of the past four. The Eagles went 15-0-2 in 1994, beating C. M. Wright of Harford, 2-0 in the final.
It was Stara's work at the club level, however, that earned him his award. With six different teams, his sides have taken six USYS Region I championships, two national crowns and one North American title. Once the Baltimore Sun All-Met Coach and twice the Maryland high school Coach of the year, Stara, an "A license" coach, recently left the Columbia Darby after directing it to under-15 and -16 Maryland State Cups and the U-15 Region I crown in his two years.
His U-16 Columbia Kick swept regional, national and North American honors in 1982. The U-19 Columbia Jays won regionals and nationals in 1985. The next year, the U-16 Howard Challenge finished second in the nation after winning Region I.
Stara said he developed his coaching theory growing up in Pittsburgh, watching the 1970s National Football League Steelers' defense. "Defense wins championships," said Stara, a Centennial earth science and astronomy teacher who lives with his wife Arden and son Matthew, 6, in Columbia. "That doesn't mean we don't stress attacking, but it doesn't matter what sport it is. The teams that are solid defensively are the teams that have the dynasties, the teams that win.
"If you build from the back, everything will grow from there. Your defense will create offense for you."
Sam DeBone, coach of Bethesda's Walt Whitman, which beat the Eagles in the 1993 title match, said his friendship with Stara his "is intense. It's mutual respect.
"He's a brilliant defensive tactical," DeBone said. "He's got tremendous ethical values. His kids are well-coached, hard-hitting, but clean."
Other NSCAA/Umbro honors awarded last night:
Laurie Schwoy, McDonogh -- Maryland Girls High School Player of the Year
Strikers Schwoy and Amber Clutter, South Carroll -- Girls High School All-Americans
Goalkeeper Brock Yetso, Centennial -- Boys High School All-American
Centennial -- Boys Fall High School Top 25
Centennial -- Girls Spring High School Top 20
Goalkeeper Zach Thornton, Loyola (Edgewood) and striker A.J. Wood, Virginia (Rockville) -- Men's Div. I College All-Americans // (Third team)
Thori Staples, North Carolina State (Joppatowne) -- Women's Division I College All-American (First team)