BRANDON — Muffie Harvey is thrilled to be leading the Otter Valley boys’ varsity soccer team, and by all accounts the team is thrilled to have her.
Harvey was named head coach by OV Athletic Director Sumner Erbe earlier this month, and the player and parents had a lot to do with the selection of the Forest Dale resident for the job.
“I was told that they spoke up on my behalf, and I am forever grateful for that,” Harvey said. “I am very grateful to get this position.”
Although she will be the third head coach in four seasons, Harvey is hoping to lend some continuity to the boys’ team. The mother of three has spent the last two seasons with the team as assistant coach.
When coach Tim Stanley left in 2008, Harvey said she considered applying for the head coaching position, but didn’t feel the school was ready for a woman in that role. Then, when Mark Quenneville became head coach in 2009, he asked Harvey to assist before he even applied for the job.
In addition to her experience as OV boys’ assistant coach for the past two years, Harvey has years of experience mentoring young soccer players. She coached elementary school soccer in Stockbridge before moving to the area in 2002. She coached soccer at Leicester Central School until 2008, and has also coached the OV 8th-grade girls’ team co-ed winter soccer at Neshobe Elementary School.
Harvey, who works as head of food services at the College of St. Joseph in Rutland, has 32 years of fitness training experience, and has been working with not only her soccer players, but players from other OV teams on fitness training this summer.
“The new head football coach (Jim Hill) asked me if I would work with some of his players as well, and I said, ‘Of course!’” Harvey exclaimed. “I would really like to help OV come together. There’s this sense that the football players and the soccer players and the basketball players are all on these different levels. Bottom line is, we’re all OV athletes, so let’s get together.”
Harvey is obviously a proponent of fitness, ranking it above technique in importance for high school athletes, and said the turnout for her summer workouts was great.
“They are better prepared, physically and mentally for the coming season” she said.
Harvey and her charges have room to grow. The Otters ended last season as the No. 13 seed in the Division II playoffs with a record of 3-11-1. They bowed out in the first round, however, with a 3-1 loss to defending champ Springfield.
Although practices started last week, the Muffie Harvey era of boys’ soccer at OV will officially commence Sept. 6 when the Otters travel to Springfield for the season opener. The first home game will be Sept. 14 against Middlebury; game time is 4:30 p.m.
Harvey holds great affection for her OV varsity team and is the biggest supporter of her players.
“This is a great bunch of guys,” she said. “I’ve developed a great relationship with them. They are awesome.”
Harvey also said she is cultivating a positive vibe on the team, which has been a problem in years past.
“I like happy kids,” she said simply. “If you can’t keep it fun, they’re going to tune out.
“We laugh a lot, we sweat, and we have a lot of fun.”