Michael Dye has always had a different perspective on the world.
When he was 6 months old, his parents, Merle and June Dye, moved him to Ethiopia to be with them as they did missionary work in various parts of East Africa for 16 years.
not only helping others but also molding himself as a person.
"Being a part of my parents' missionary work from almost the time I was born really had a big impact on me," said Dye, who spent his first 10 years of his life in Africa. "I learned that I wanted to invest my time in helping other people in whatever way I could."
Nearly three decades later, Dye, 39, is still trying to help mold young men and women as the Bible elective teacher at Cox Mill High and the boys' soccer coach at Central Cabarrus High.
Dye has seen great results on the field this year. His Vikings have completely changed their fortunes from a team that finished near the bottom of the South Piedmont conference the last two years to winning the conference championship for the first time since 1999.
Central Cabarrus also won its first-round playoff game last week, a 2-1 game over Eden Morehead, becoming one of only two teams in the league to get out of the opening round. It was 16-4-1 (11-2-1 in conference play) going into a second-round matchup with West Iredell.
But the SPC title and playoff win were just another notch in a series of huge victories for the Vikings this season, as the team swept not only perennial SPC frontrunner Jay M. Robinson, but also archrival Hickory Ridge to help turn their fortunes.
"This whole year has been kind of surreal," said Dye. "Obviously, we haven't been in this position recently. Each win, we were like, 'OK, that's great, but what happens next?' We didn't want to jinx ourselves by thinking too far ahead."
Dye and his team have done it with a stifling defense that has allowed less than a goal per contest led by goalkeeper Narciso Alvarado. The senior had recorded 11 shutouts in 21 games going into the West Iredell game.
While the Central Cabarrus defense is rock solid, the offense has also been opportunistic with senior Justin Morgan organizing the team from his central midfield spot, while forward Jose Rumbo, the team's leading scorer, and freshman outside midfielder Jonathan Arellano also playing big roles.
"We don't really have any superstars, we are the epitome of a team," said Dye, who also plays seven to eight guys off the bench.
That team concept has fueled the Vikings' turnaround, even under some of life's greatest stresses.
Dye and his wife, Leticia, welcomed Eden Sage Dye Oct.30, less than 48 hours before the Vikings' first-round playoff game.
"I was thinking about my wife and daughter a lot the last few weeks and checking my cell phone a lot during practices and games," he said. "But everyone on this team, including coaches, parents and players, has been great to me throughout the whole process."
After struggling for most of the first three years of his tenure at Central Cabarrus, he sometimes finds it hard to believe how things have changed.
"Based on the past, I don't think anyone would have ever imagined that we would win conference and a playoff game and possibly more," Morgan said.
Defender Zack Tellier, a junior co-captain, agrees.
"This team has come a long way in the three years I've been here," he said. "Coach Dye and I weren't always on the same page, but we have built a great relationship and chemistry on this team, and I think that says a lot about our coach."
Dye hopes this is just the beginning of a bright future for Central Cabarrus
"I hope everything we have done this year is a boost for this program, not just a one-year, temporary thing," Dye said. "We need this to help renew interest in soccer at Central and help us continue to build a consistent winner in the future."