The area’s first soccer program is only on its third coach.
Norwalk High School started its boys soccer team in 1992, and now under coach Paul Lamb - who reached his 100th win Saturday against Edison - the Truckers have amassed a record of 241-110-43 over the last 23 years.
“Norwalk's always been a strong team,” Lamb said. “And it's not because of me, it's because I inherited a really strong history. Prior to that, Norwalk just figured out how to win games, not necessarily always the best skill on the field, but we won games. And we've kind of just carried that all the way through and we just keep going.”
Norwalk’s first coach was Kurt Drier, who coached from 1992-97 and compiled a 53-39-11 record. He was succeeded by Bob Cowman, who coached from 1998-04 with a record of 88-21-17.
Lamb was an assistant coach under Dreier from 1994-97, then the junior varsity coach during Cowman’s tenure.
Last season, the Truckers finished with a record of 12-6-2 after falling to Bay in a Division II regional semifinal. Norwalk also reached the regionals in 1997 during Lamb’s assistant coaching days, also falling to Bay (1-0).
Under Lamb, the Truckers have only had two seasons without winning records (2009 and 2010).
“I’m just really proud of the guys that are willing to work just super hard, especially in the offseason to come out and be the best they can be,” Lamb said.
Lamb has a pair of former Norwalk soccer players on his coaching staff — Troy Pittenger is an assistant and Jon Kijowski is in his first season as junior varsity coach.
"Troy played back in the late 70s,” Lamb joked. “No, he was back in 98 or 99 and Jon is my JV coach, first-year JV coach and he played late 2000s.”
Kijowski graduated from Norwalk in 2007 and went on to play at Heidelberg University and Owens Community College. He was an assistant coach for the Huron High School girls program from 2011-13 under his brother Justin, who also played at Norwalk — and also coached Norwalk’s JV team under Lamb (2006-08).
Norwalk’s other assistant, Jordan Rush, played high school soccer at Amherst Steele.
“Jordan is someone who has now been in the Norwalk area for awhile, but he would have played against us at Amherst Steele when he was a student there,” Lamb said. “Actually, back in Troy's years, Jordan probably played against Troy and didn't even know it. So now we've got that (coaching) team and I'm very pleased with my team. Great guys.”
Pittenger has been Lamb’s assistant for several seasons, and Lamb called him a lifeline.
“Troy's just been an absolute Godsend for me,” Lamb said. “He's kept me balanced and he just keeps me on track. I just really appreciate all the effort he's given to help me out as a volunteer. He gets absolutely nothing for this other than pats on the back. He deserves a lot of credit. My 100 wins are largely because of Troy. That's a very good thing."
The Truckers are 1-1 to start this season and face Tiffin Columbian Saturday.
“I’ve got 12 seniors this year, and I just really look for a strong season,” Lamb said.