After guiding the Smyrna girls soccer team back to the DIAA state tournament this past season, Eagles head coach Ryan Buchanan was honored by the state’s soccer coaches association with the Henlopen Conference coach of the year, as well as the top coach of the state’s larger enrollment schools.
“You really don’t get into this for awards,” Buchanan said, who just wrapped up his eighth in charge of the Eagle girls. “But it’s very nice to be recognized by your peers for the work you put in. It’s very humbling.”
The coach’s road to becoming one of the top coaches in the state was one paved with hard work.
A University of Delaware grad, Buchanan, who played in high school and always had a love for the game, started out heading up the Smyrna boys’ junior varsity soccer team. When athletic director and boys varsity coach Bill Schultz was looking for someone to fill the vacant girls varsity coaching position, he turned to Buchanan.
Buchanan took over in 2005, inheriting a team that had won just two matches the previous season. After a 4-10-1 mark in his first year, the Eagles have won at least eight matches every year since, including several state tournament appearances.
The Eagles compiled an 11-4-1 record this past spring, giving Caravel all they could handle in the tournament‘s first round before losing 1-0.
“I didn’t exactly foresee us becoming a fixture in the state tournament, but I’m definitely glad to see that happen," he said. “We’ve got a really nice program here."
Even after winning two coaching honors, Buchanan prefers to give credit to his girls and a system based on trust and mutual respect.
“We function on the idea of respect. We know the girls aren’t pros, but we do work hard in practice,” he explains. “They know I have their best interests at heart and I know they’re going to work hard.”
Even with teaching duties and a family – Buchanan and his wife are parents to 3-year old and 3-month old girls – he’s in this for as long as he’s having fun. And he still is.
“My wife says if I still enjoy doing it, then I should,” he said. “When it becomes an obligation or a job, then it’s time for me to step aside. But I’m still having fun.”