Munger to lead boys’ soccer
By LANCE CATCHINGS
Beginning next season, the Liberty Hill boys’ soccer program will have a new head coach, but it will be a familiar face.
Longtime assistant Wayne Munger will take over the head coaching duties of the program from coach Darren Bauer who has headed both the girls’ and boys’ programs for several years. Bauer will continue to serve as head coach of the girls’ program and both Munger and Bauer will serve as each other’s assistants going forward.
“The tradition of Liberty Hill is to win so that is always high on our priority list,” Munger said. “We always want to try to field the best team possible. I want to grow players and people at the same time. Our goal is a state title just like it is for every program at Liberty Hill.”
Munger is a 2010 graduate of Canyon High School. Afterwards he continued his soccer playing career at Eastern New Mexico University before transferring to Southwestern University in Georgetown to finish out his playing career and his degree in 2014. This will be Munger’s first head coaching job at the high school level, but his resume comes with plenty of head coaching experience. He also has strong ties to the Liberty Hill area through his grandparents and other family members.
“I have been a head coach for club programs before,” he said. “Before I graduated from college, I was lucky enough to have my student teaching under coach Gretchen Peterson at Liberty Hill. I got close with the coaching staff and I was lucky enough that a position opened, and I was able to get into it. Liberty Hill really got on my radar due to family ties. Although my family no longer lives in Liberty Hill my grandfather and I had great uncles that went to school here. They lived here way back in the day and I always had found memories of the farm.”
Munger worked in Liberty Hill for two years after his student teaching before heading to Vermont with his wife Sarah to finish her law degree but even then, he never left coaching.
“I ended up working a soccer program there. My girls team won first place in the premiere league in Boston and the guys got runner-up. We stayed in Vermont for roughly two years. I came back to Liberty Hill as assistant with coach Bauer after a three-year absence in 2018.”
Munger and Bauer have had much success working together and they look to continue that with Munger as the head coach of the boys’ program.
“Coach Bauer and I really work well together because we like the same style of play which is a little bit more tactical,” he said. “It is not just pure athleticism where you put out the fastest, biggest and strongest players. We want players that can think and make decisions according to the situation at hand. We want intellectual and intelligent players on the field.”
Last season the Panthers made a second-round playoff exit to rival Taylor and Munger believes that should be a motivating factor for next season.
“I think last season Bauer, myself and the players were upset with how we exited the playoffs,” he said. “I believe there is a chip on our back to make sure we get further than we did last year. Over the last two years we have lost some pretty big players, so we are looking at that next group of players. The first generation was what the program started with and now we are starting that second generation of players who can take the program where it is and move it forward. For the numbers and people that are out there I think we are in really good shape. We have people that have strong work ethic and I am excited to get out there as we start a new season.”
As the popularity of soccer grows in Central, Texas teams try to close the talent gap on Liberty Hill and Munger said that is something the coaches and players recognize.
“Soccer is growing in Texas, especially where we are,” he said. “The teams around us are getting a lot better and this last year we got to see that. The competition got better, and we must understand that. I think there is an awareness going forward that everything we do has to be at a higher quality.”
Munger also wants the community to make sure they are a part of what the soccer program is doing.
“We are always looking for our community to be involved with our program and I think our summer camp was a good step forward,” he said. “It was larger numbers than any year past and we want to build up a bigger pipeline for younger kids. I think that can really pay dividends down the road.”