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Storch serves as assistant to Florida high school state champion

Courtesy Photo Tim Storch, far left, poses with members of the Naples Gulf Coast High School boys soccer team after it won the Florida 7-A state championship earlier this month. Storch, the longtime coach of Alpena High School’s soccer teams, served as a volunteer assistant for the Sharks.

ALPENA — Even during the offseason, Tim Storch can’t keep away from the soccer field for too long.

Recently retired from his role as Alpena High athletic director and with plenty of time on his hands in Florida during the winter, Storch decided to do what he’s done for more than three decades: coach.

Serving as an assistant to the Naples Gulf Coast High School boys soccer team, Storch helped the Sharks to a Florida 7-A state championship earlier this month in a 1-0 overtime win.

It was a change of pace for Alpena’s longtime boys and girls soccer coach, but a welcome one. As a volunteer assistant to coach Bryan Billingsley, Storch was given a lot of free reign in his duties and got along well with the head coach.

“I fell into a good situation. I knew they were a good team and (coach Billingsley) and I are cut from the same cloth from a motivational standpoint,” Storch said. “We saw the game the same way and wanted to coach our teams the same way.”

The high school sits just a few miles away from Storch’s winter home and Storch acquainted himself with the team before he became part of the staff. Eventually, he reached out to Gulf Coast Athletic Director Alan Scott with some information on his coaching background and heard back from Scott and Billingsley immediately.

Scott, who led the Sharks to state championships in 2013 and 2018, along with a runner-up finish in 2016, was impressed with Storch’s resume, which includes more than 1,000 career wins and nine state championships. Storch joined a talented squad that graduated just four seniors last season and was primed for a big year.

“The thing that’s remarkable is the amount of athletes down here is something to behold,” Storch said. “When you look at the quality of athletes (here), it’s no secret why the Big Ten recruits in Florida and Texas.”

Though soccer is typically a winter sport in Florida, the season was extended to nearly five months in total — October to March — due to the pandemic. Though the Sharks ultimately claimed the championship trophy in the state’s biggest division, COVID restrictions and regulations meant some time off between playoff games. That included a week between the semifinals and finals.

“It was personally gratifying and a great way to occupy my time and not sit around and be a couch potato,” Storch said.

Storch said the manner in which he coached with the Sharks was the same as he did in 30 years with Troy Athens and in more than a decade at Alpena. Still, he admits it was a little different being in an assistant coaching role and deferring to Billingsley.

“You learn that you’re not in charge (as an assistant coach). He (as a head coach) makes decisions whether you agree with them or not,” Storch said. “Coaching can be a good cop, bad cop thing and as an assistant coach, you’re always a good cop.”

Storch said he plans to return to help the Sharks next season, but with Alpena’s girls soccer season right around the corner, he’s anxious to get going, especially after the Wildcats season was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

“I really enjoyed working with the kids,” Storch said. “But I’m still very excited to get back to my Alpena people.”

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