Rist says Coach of the Year award is a reflection of his players

May 13—In March, Jay Rist was honored as the West Virginia Soccer Association's Competitive Boys Coach of the Year during the Hall of Fame ceremony in Huntington. For him, that was a reflection of how the year turned out for the whole Legacy FC youth soccer program.

"Very humbling to get the award, but it is kind of a by-product of the success my 2011 boys have had over the last couple of years, and it's kind of capping off a banner year for Legacy FC as a club here in southern West Virginia," Rist said. "We had six State Cup teams for the 2022-23 playing year. We had three that went to championship games and we ended up winning three titles between our 2005, our 2008 and our 2011 boys.

"The Coach of the Year award is just another piece to that puzzle of really having this banner year. It was our best year yet. It's a reflection on my boys."

The club had the second-most championships in the state.

Among the program's championships during that year were the U11 team winning the U12 President's Cup in 2022, the U12s winning the WVSA Open Cup in the U13, U14 and U15 bracket and the U12 State Cup in 2023.

"This is a team that I have been working with, this is actually year six," Rist said. "The majority of the group, I have been with them since they were 6 years old. Now they're getting to be 12 and 13 years old. Just a lot of love and appreciation for that group of kids."

Rist, a 1992 Woodrow Wilson graduate, began coaching youth soccer upon his return to Beckley after graduating from West Virginia University. He coached at the U17 and U18 levels in addition to U12 boys. He has been able to coach his daughter Reagan and son Ethan.

He coached a girls team through 2003-04 and took a hiatus until joining Jerry Umberger and Jason Logan in founding Legacy FC in 2014. The program's footprint is wide, with players who end up feeding into schools such as Woodrow Wilson, Princeton, Greenbrier East, Oak Hill and Nicholas County.

Players get more attention once they hit the high school ranks, but Rist is honored to be part of the journey to that point.

"I think their growth, not just as players but as productive members of society," said Rist, the CEO of the YMCA of Southern West Virginia. "Hopefully I've been able to provide them with some life lessons through the game. I know what it meant to me to be part of that group (as a player) and have that peer group. Some of my best friends growing up came out of the group that I played with. And I think that we have a very congenial-type group of guys here on that 2011 team, and it's reflected in how they approach practice and how well they get along, and we have a great group of parents.

"The life lessons that you get through playing sports, whether it's soccer, football, baseball, basketball, whatever the case may be; track, cross country — that feeling of being a part of a team and having that peer group is super important. And that goes hand in hand with the work that I do at the Y.

"That's the satisfaction I get out of it. Winning's a by-product of the work that they put in, but it's that period of growth where they start to become young adults."

The new season has gotten off to a big start with wins at the Nike Challenge Cup in Columbus, Ohio, and a second straight State Cup championship in Beckley.