Head soccer coach Arlan Vomhof celebrates 400th collective coaching victory

Twenty-one years of coaching and 602 games pay off with a major milestone

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By Sophie Rosen

Before the girls soccer game on Tuesday, April 18, head coach Arlan Vomhof receives a plaque honoring his 400th coaching victory from athletic director Jerald VanRheen.

Tricia Drumm, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

When the buzzer sounded and the girls soccer team had defeated Topeka Seaman, 5-1, on Monday, April 17, head soccer coach Arlan Vomhof knew he held his 400th collective victory in the palm of his hand.

As the only boys and girls coach since the school opened in 2000, Vomhof and his teams hit many accomplishments along the way to that 400th victory. The boys team won 10 league championships and seven regional championships. The boys went to state and placed third three times and fourth place once. For the girls, they have won six league championships and four regional championships, and the team placed second once and fourth place twice at state.

In his time coaching the Topeka Seaman boys and girls soccer team, Vomhof racked up around 50 victories. After taking a four-year break, he became the Mill Valley boys and girls head soccer coach, earning 198 and around 150 respective victories. Vomhof said it felt strange to have reached the milestone of 400 victories.

“To think I’ve been on the sideline in rain and cold and hot, and all that for 21 years and 600 games — that’s a lot of time,” Vomhof said. “Think about how many weeks of practice over 21 years. That’s a lot of time, and 600 games is a lot of coaching. …  400 wins is crazy to think about. Standing on the sidelines for 600 games is even more crazy to think about it.”

The journey to the milestone had its ups and downs, according to Vomhof.

“You have years that you have a stellar team, then you have years that you struggle with talent,” Vomhof said. “You get the players to give you the best they can and you see what you do with it.”

For the past 12 years of being under Vomhof’s wing and developing a relationship with Vomhof and his family, senior Adam Grube felt good to have played the past season and contributed to the 400th victory.

“It feels like now my place, team’s place, won’t go unnoticed because we helped him reach this big milestone,” Grube said. “At least, in his head, we were one of those teams that helped him out to reach that huge milestone that he did.”

While he couldn’t attribute his success to anything in particular, Vomhof felt like the biggest success overall was “getting players to produce or be better players than they think they are.” He liked coaching players with a variety of different backgrounds, abilities and ages.

You get the players to give you the best they can and you see what you do with it.”

— head soccer coach Arlan Vomhof

“It’s always an interesting combination of trying to put the right people in the right positions,” Vomhof said. “We, probably every year, have four to five different clubs that are represented [in the teams], which comes with four or five different mentalities for the game. We have players all the time who say, ‘Well, on my club team I play this position.’ And I tell them, ‘That’s wonderful. I’m glad. But I need you in this position for our team.’”

Throughout the past 21 years of victories, ties, losses and countless hours of practice, Vomhof said his biggest supporter was his family.

“It’s been …  a curse [for my kids] because they’re always under the microscope more than other players,” Vomhof said. “But I’m probably the luckiest person, the luckiest parent, because I see my kids in the hallways, then I get to go out and practice and be around them for a few more hours. … That’s probably a giant benefit, but my kids and definitely my wife have been a huge support.”

Along with learning to have a sense of humor, Grube believes Vomhof passed on the notion that any victory comes through hard work.

“He would always stress in practice that it doesn’t matter how good you’re playing,” Grube said. “As long as you’re working hard and you’re trying your best, then that’s just the biggest part. Everything else will come if you work hard.”

From Vomhof’s perspective, a good coach listens to the players with an open mind, and his main philosophy is to “carry the classroom out to the field” because he wants his players to apply the ideas he teaches anywhere they go.

“I always tell them at the beginning of the season and throughout the season that your name is all that you really have,” Vomhof said. “You can get rid of all your worldly possessions and the one thing you carry is your name or your reputation. I’ve tried to instill in the players that when you put yourself on the field in a certain manner, that reflects on yourself, your teammates, your coaches, your program and your school. … Even if you’re away from school, people know who you are and they watch what you do. … When you’re on the field, you play within the limits of the game as hard as you can. You win with dignity, you lose with dignity. You put it all out there.”

Even after he’s retired, Vomhof wants his philosophy to carry over into future seasons.

“It really doesn’t matter about the numbers or any of that,” Vomhof said. “I hope that what started here at Mill Valley continues to be successful. There are kids that love high school season way more than club season because they’ve got something to fight for and they have fun. … As I get close to the end of my career as a coach, I hope that everything is still fun but successful.”

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