AN APPRECIATION

Debby Watson, head coach, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)

One in an occasional series.

By Al Mattei

Founder, TopOfTheCircle.com

Since the onset of World War II, there have been exactly two head field coaches at St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.).

That's what has made Debby Watson's 500th career coaching win on Sept. 4, 2003 so overwhelming to her.

"This whole thing has been thrilling and humbling at the same time," Watson said after the 6-0 win over Brentwood (Mo.) "There was a tradition of excellence that started way before I got here."

She gave credit to Thelma Kenesick, the Iowa native who coached at Villa Duchesne for 34 years until Watson came along at the inception of Title IX.

During her coaching career, Watson has eight championships and has sent numerous members of her team to All-America playing careers.

Despite all that, Watson had her worries about the 2003 season and whether it could start off with that 500th win, even though it was against a team which did not have the same types of athletes that she had.

"I graduated 16 seniors, which is pretty much par for around here," she said. "I knew this was going to be a whole different type of team."

Still, she had nothing to worry about; her players, well-prepared as always, took care of the job at hand, then celebrated.

The ironic aspect of the entire episode is that Watson had 10 months to wait before winning the milestone game (having fallen short of the 2002 championship), but had less than a day to enjoy it.

Why? The following afternoon, she and the Saints had four games in three days as part of the Gateway Classic at the Anheuser-Busch Sports Complex against the likes of national powers Lake Forest (Ill.) and the University School of Milwaukee (Wisc.).

"I have been using these games to try out different people," Watson says. "And this will help later in the year."

Sounds like the kind of coach planning to win much more than 500 matches.

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