Lake Norman & Mooresville

Patriots' soccer coach has many area connections

Josh Wagner has been entrenched in the Lake Norman soccer community for several years.

After starting the soccer program at Bailey Middle School and coaching North Meck's junior varsity program, Wagner has taken on another role, the head coaching job at Davidson Day.

Wagner, who also coaches a U-15 team at North Meck Soccer Club, passed up on the Patriots' job when the soccer program started last year because there wasn't a physical education opening at the school.

"I wanted to be here, but feasibly I couldn't," he said. "I wanted to teach at the school if I was going to be coaching a varsity sport."

But when a P.E. position opened up, Wagner jumped on the opportunity.

"It's my dream job," he said.

Before coming to the area, Wagner played collegiately at Baptist Bible College in Scranton, Penn., where he was a four-year starter at sweeper.

Wagner didn't start playing soccer until eighth grade, having opted instead for baseball.

"It's just one of those things that I took a shot at and fell in love with," he said.

Wagner said the team-oriented aspect and the commitment soccer requires drew him to the sport.

After realizing that he couldn't play the sport he grew to love forever, he decided to go into coaching.

Wagner said having had coaches to look up to growing up made him realize that he wanted to be a mentor for children.

He started coaching about six years ago before he moved to the area from New York.

Wagner got involved with Davidson Parks and Recreation. During that time, he met Bailey Middle's athletic director Don Riehl, who gave him the opportunity to coach the Broncos.

Wagner led the Bailey soccer program, which he built up from scratch, to four conference titles in the four years during his time with the team.

"Those guys I had that first year as seventh-graders are now seniors at North Meck High School," said Wagner. "I've been with them through their entire middle and high school careers."

He hopes that same success and what he learned during his years at Bailey and North Meck translate to Davidson Day.

"The biggest thing is just to stay in your fundamentals and in your beliefs," said Wagner.

"If you stick to your guns through good and bad, it'll hopefully work out for you."

He explained that the biggest adjustment from his previous jobs is getting used to carrying out the logistical aspects that come along with being a varsity coach, such as having to line the field and arrange transportation.

"It's just the little things that nobody things about but are absolutely huge for a team," said Wagner.

He said he's been impressed with his team so far.

"They all work hard every day and leave it all on the field," said Wagner. "That's all I can ask. Everything else will fall into place."

The team, which has focused on learning tactics and Wagner's philosophy of the game, will be led by players very familiar with Wagner, including Eric Robinson and Jax Goyette - both of whom have previously played for the coach.

Wagner hopes his young team continues to buy into his teachings. His goal for the season is for his Patriots to improve every single game.

"Each game, we have to realize the mistakes we made either in training or on the field and learn from them," he said.

"That way it'll always be a continuous climb."