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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Sam Koleduk, who led Gulf for six years, returns to run the Sunlake boys program.
By MIKE CAMUNAS
Published July 13, 2007
Sam Koleduk won't be teaching history at Sunlake.
Perhaps he should. He's got more history in Pasco County than most.
Koleduk, 37, is a native, played four years at St. Leo University, then went on to coach six very successful years at Gulf. Now he's returning from a two-year stint at Cincinnati Christian University to take over Sunlake's boys soccer program.
"I wanted to try to coach college soccer and move up to the college ranks," Koleduk said. "But once you get there, it's not as good as you think it's going to be. ... Coming back really just came down to my family, with my parents also living down here."
Koleduk has a 6-month-old son, and his parents live in Pasco. But he said that when he took the job at CCU, his wife didn't come with him, which made for a lot of extra traveling.
But there was still success. The Eagles went 42-5 and, in 2005 and 2006, lost in the National Christian College Athletic Association Divison II national championship and the national semifinal, respectively.
Sunlake athletic director Matt McDermott knows he picked a great coach.
"He was very successful at Gulf," McDermott said. "His experience was unmatched to those who applied, I mean, just with his experience in anything he's accomplished. ... We've really mixed a lot of veterans with a lot of experience with younger coaches who are in a good positions to gain a lot experience and who have a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
"It seems (that) every other day, something else comes up that we're excited about over here."
With the Buccaneers (1998-2004), Koleduk was 88-46-12, made two state playoff appearances and was named the Sunshine Athletic Conference coach of the year twice. Colleagues feel Koleduk's the most comfortable at the high school level.
"He always good about having a real connection with the players," said Joshua Miller, who played under Koleduk at CCU and is the assistant coach taking over for Koleduk. "I definitely know he loves coaching a high school program - likes helping those kids out more at the high school level. ... The players he'll have, they can count on him to make them even better."
Koleduk's former coach agrees.
"Sam's pretty laid back," said Fran Reidy, who coached Koleduk in the early '90s and is now St. Leo's athletic director. "And for today's players, that's a strength. He's not a big disciplinarian - an old-school coach. He's a players' coach, and kids relate to that.
"He's a player and he's always been a player, and he coaches in that way."
And players do relate to Koleduk - such as Adam Stosur, who played for Koleduk for four years at Gulf and graduated in 2002. Once Koleduk took over at CCU, he needed some players, and with Stosur not enrolled in college, Koleduk called Stosur up.
"He always pushed me to go to college," Stostur said. "He's been my coach since I was 14, and even then I was skeptical about going away to college, but now it's probably the best decision I've ever made."
Koleduk's return to Pasco was a no-brainer.
"Sam is a bit of a homebody," Reidy said. "He likes - like a lot of us do - being in Florida and playing soccer in Florida ... and he's very comfortable here. He knows the opponents, the climate and the county. For him to remain in Pasco County this way is, well, to Sunlake, an advantage."
Miller and Reidy acknowledge that success follows Koleduk, and Stosur says Koleduk is "the best soccer player I have ever met in my life." But Koleduk said he's eager to get back to being around - and helping - high school kids.
"I think it'll be fairly easy (to get back to coaching high school)," Koleduk said. "I've only been gone two years and still been in touch with everyone. ... I missed getting the high school guys into the college level, which to me was much more rewarding than coaching on the college level.
"That alone was worth coming back for."
By the numbers
88 wins in Koleduk's six seasons at Gulf (1998-2004).
42 wins in two seasons at Cincinnati Christian University (05-06).
2 times Koleduk was SAC coach of the year.
266 goals scored by Koleduk's team in two seasons at CCU.
30 goals given up in two season at CCU.
77 goals scored as a player at St. Leo University (90-94), making Koleduk the all-time leading scorer.
4 single-season and career records Koleduk holds at St. Leo, including most goals (33 in a season; 77 career), most points (77; 187), most shots (100; 326) and most multiple-goal games (11; 21).
6 goals scored in a game by Koleduk against Weber on Sept. 8, 1993, tied for the most in a game.