When Joe Fletcher learned of the soccer opening at Monmouth Academy this past spring, it was an opportunity that he just couldn’t pass up.

As a result, both Monmouth and Oak Hill have new boys’ soccer coaches. Fletcher stepped down from the Oak Hill program to take over the Mustangs’ job. Chad Drouin has subsequently stepped in at the Raiders’ helm.

“It was a tough decision,” said Fletcher, who coached at Oak Hill for eight years. “My son is going to be playing soccer at Monmouth Academy this year. I didn’t think it would be fair to Oak Hill players or to my son or myself wishing to be somewhere else during practice. The Monmouth job opened up, and it was perfect timing for me.”

Fletcher replaces Drew Riddle, who coached the Mustangs for two seasons. Fletcher was coming off an 11-3 season and a quarterfinal loss in the Western B tournament.

“It’s a good challenge and a similar challenge to when I took over the Oak Hill program,” said Fletcher.

The Mustangs have struggled to keep up numbers and nearly disbanded the program a few years back. Still, Monmouth has persevered and Fletcher hopes the program can continue to build.

“We’re going to struggle this year with numbers,” he said. “We may only have 14 players, but we’re focused on the middle school. We’ve got 29 boys signed up to play middle school soccer. So that’s going to be one of my focuses.”

When Fletcher learned that the Monmouth job would become vacant, it was a tempting opportunity. He didn’t want to miss out on his son’s play and didn’t want to regret not applying for the job, but leaving Oak Hill wasn’t going to be easy.

“I’d known about it for a while and prayed about it,” he said. “I talked with my wife and my kids and decided it would be best if I did that. I didn’t want to have a practice at Oak Hill and have my son playing down the road in Winthrop and not be able to watch. You’re kids only grow up once and sports are a big part of our life.”

Fletcher says it will be hard not being in the school with his players like he was at Oak Hill and he’ll be adjusting to a new conference and level of play.

“I’m excited about the up coming season,” said Fletcher. “I think we’re going to be competitive.”

When Fletcher’s replacement proved difficult to find, Drouin was asked about the job.

“(Athletic director) Bill Fairchild approached me and asked me if I’d be interested,” said Drouin. “They were looking for someone who had experience in coaching soccer and was close to the building. I work in the building. I thought about it. I coached the JV girls last year and was going to come back and do that anyway. I thought the time commitment would be about the same. So I thought I’d help out and take the position.”

Drouin is also the Oak Hill baseball coach. He coached the JV girls’ team for two years and coached the JV boys’ team for five years. He also coached the Monmouth Middle School boys’ program for four years.

“I don’t know if it will be a long-term thing,” said Drouin. “I don’t know if it’s going to be more than a one-year thing.”

Though coaching at the varsity level will be a change, Drouin doesn’t expect it to be too different for him, especially with the varsity baseball experience in hand.

“I don’t think I approach it any differently in how we get the kids to compete at a high level,” he said. “Certainly the skills and the drills will be more intense at the varsity level.”

Drouin was hired just last month and wasn’t able to organize anything in the way of summer soccer, but Fletcher had already taken care of that. He’s been coaching a combined team of Oak Hill and Monmouth players this summer.

“We’ve had a pretty good turnout,” said Fletcher. “We’re averaging about 19 or 20 kids between both schools. Monmouth players are involved in other summer sports. Some are playing basketball and some are playing baseball. So, it’s tough to get everyone there at once.”

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