Ruth Vostal is a pragmatist.
It took a close friend to force the veteran St. Charles North girls soccer coach to allow herself to put the detail-sweating on hold.
Vostal found out earlier this month that she is a finalist for National High School Athletic Coaches Association Soccer Coach of the Year.
The seven soccer finalists – along with coaches nominated for other sports – are invited to a convention and banquet in June in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Quite the honor, Vostal acknowledged, even if it took some prodding to embrace the moment.
“The honest response, being a mother and someone who I plan a lot just to be organized and to keep life going smoothly, I was like ‘Oh, man, how am I going to get out there this summer,’ and ‘Do I take the whole family, or do I even go,’ ” Vostal said. “I talked to my assistant, Annie (Lauterer) … and she said ‘Are you kidding me? This is the chance of a lifetime. How much longer are you going going to be coaching?’ So she made me look more at the positive side, which I was very excited, but I was going into how am I going to fit this into my schedule.”
Vostal is the only girls soccer coach in North history, and surpassed the 200-career win mark early last season, her 13th with the North Stars. She has guided North to a pair of state runners-up finishes, and the North Stars have been a perennial force in the postseason.
Vostal initially won coach of the year through the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association, advancing her to a pool of coaches for a regional award, which she also won. Vostal said North’s consistency and aggressive scheduling likely bolstered her candidacy.
“There are people with good records but I also think people who are making these decisions probably look at the quality of players coming through St. Charles and the quality of teams we’re playing,” Vostal said. “I look at the [Tournament of Champions in Iowa] we go to and we’ve been able to be real successful out there, and that’s not us going out there to play three teams to get three wins. We put ourselves in the most difficult bracket.”
Vostal, who starred at St. Charles High before playing college soccer at Michigan, has family roots in Maine, and said most of her vacations involve the East Coast, making the trip to Wyoming especially intriguing.
Regardless of who accompanies her, Vostal is leaning toward attending, which would put her on the hook for a short presentation given by each of the finalists as part of the coaching conference.
As for Lauterer’s rhetorical question – how much longer Vostal will keep coaching – Vostal acknowledges her coaching shelf life has crossed her mind.
Vostal and her husband, Reed, have three children – 8 year-old Hayden and 5-year-old twins Brennan and Lilly. She still loves competing and includes her children in as many of North’s team activities as possible, but family considerations figure to become all the more pressing in the coming years.
“I think it’ll be when I feel like I’m missing more of my own children’s activities and sports and games, and that kind of stuff,” Vostal said. “When they look at me and say ‘Hey, why aren’t you here?,’ that kind of deal. As hard as it will be, if it’s 3:30 and I’m at my son’s baseball game or little one’s soccer game, we would all be able to get over [missing coaching] a little bit faster. But it’s easier to say, harder to do.”
• Jay Schwab is sports editor with the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.