VINTON, Iowa — In 2012, Kyle McAbee was a senior on Vinton-Shellsburg's first ever varsity soccer team. But even after his final match, he knew his soccer career wasn't meant to be over, "My senior year I fell in love with the game, and I wasn't ready to be done yet. So on the bus ride of the last game, I asked the coach if it was okay if I come back and coach next year. He said 'of course', and that was the beginning of my coaching career."
Kyle first began as an assistant coach at just 19 years old; eventually taking over as head coach in 2016. But those first years as a soccer program involved a lot of baby steps. The school's first winning record didn't come until 2019.
McAbee says, "The guys that were part of those years that weren't so great-they helped build this program too. They came to practice every day and still gutted it out even when it wasn't fun and we were getting mercy-ruled."
But over the last three seasons, coach McAbee has helped build a power in eastern Iowa. Last year the team was within a game of the State tournament, and this year they've been ranked as high as #5 in class 1A. Senior midfielder Cale Shulte says, "He's really inspired us to work harder every day, and go in and out putting as much effort as we can into every game, doing as much as we can to put the ball in the back of the net."
McAbee says, "Being able to reproduce that kind of success this year after last year is definitely huge for the program. It basically states that the program is here to stay and we're not going anywhere."
In just ten years, Kyle has helped build a team that has State tournament potential. And his hope is that this will be the standard for Viking soccer every season, "I think the key is-last year's seniors; I made sure the starters took the guys underneath them under their wing and mentor them. And I've done the same thing with this year's seniors. It's gonna be a fun couple of years and I assume after them it's going to be a couple fun years after that."