Coach is Woodstock’s Heart and Soul(e)

Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Each week this summer, the Valley News will profile an area high school coach. It’s a chance to better know some of the people guiding the area’s student-athletes. Today, we meet Woodstock High girls lacrosse coach and Barnard resident Amanda Soule, who’s also a second-year kindergarten teacher at Hartland Elementary School.

Finals reservation: Woodstock won the 2015 Vermont Division II state title during Soule’s first year as head coach and reached the finals this spring. The Wasps have evolved into a rapid-passing, attack-oriented team under Soule, a former player in the Woodstock program and at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., from which she graduated in 2008.

Apprenticeship: Soule helped coach Woodstock’s junior varsity girls lacrosse team for four seasons. She stepped away for two years and was then a varsity assistant for two campaigns under former coach Hannah Nichols, who is now a counselor at an international school in Islamabad, Pakistan.

True calling: “I love working and being around kids. It’s so much fun to see them grow and teach them things. In both coaching and teaching, you see that moment when they get it. They keep you on your toes and you try to be a role model for them. My years of coaching have definitely helped me as a teacher.”

Leap of faith: “Being a teacher was always in the back of my mind, but I loved studying business in college and pursued that for a few year afterwards. Volunteering as a lacrosse coach helped me think about teaching again and I got to the point where I thought ‘If I don’t do it now, I’m not going to’.”

UVEI: “I went to the Upper Valley Educator’s Institute. They are a fabulous school and they’ve been doing it for 20-plus years. You have to pass tests to prove you know enough about subjects, but it’s more of them teaching you how to be a teacher. The awesome part is you’re in the classroom four days a week for an entire year. I was at the Barnard and Woodstock elementary schools and had mentor teachers.”

Smooth ride: “I was surprised at how well my first year of teaching went and how good a fit Hartland was for me. I was anticipating a few more bumps. The kids don’t have a super-long attention span, but it’s all in how you plan your day and its small time segments and transitions. You have to keep them entertained and focused.”

Eyes on me: “My lacrosse girls had a lot of laughs this season when I started to pull out my classroom management tactics with them. I’d clap and shout to get their attention and they’d tell me they weren’t kindergarteners. By that time of the day, you’re happy to switch to an older age group.”

Zzzz: “There were some long days when you came in early before teaching to get everything prepped, and then you took a road trip to Burr & Burton or Mount Anthony for a game after school. The good thing is that the kids keep you energized. Then you sleep really hard at night.”

Siblings: Amanda’s younger sister, Kaleigh Soule Rhoades, is a physical education teacher at the Ottauquechee Elementary School and a former Hartford High girls lacrosse coach. Younger brother Austin Soule played football at Windsor High and Norwich University and is a Vermont state police trooper stationed at the Westminster Barracks.

Fresh coat: “My dad owns a painting business, and I started working for him in the summers when I was about 17. I continue to do that on my own now in Barnard. I don’t mind heights at al;, in fact, sometimes I get a little too precarious up there on the ladders. I also worked at the South Woodstock Country Store for years and as a waitress.”

Emergency call: “I’ve been an (Emergency Medical Technician) in Barnard for seven or eight years. It’s completely volunteer, so if I’m around and my pager goes off, I go. It goes in waves. You could have no calls for a month and then three in a week. I’d guess we only get about 50 calls a year for all of us. Sometimes people have a really bad day and, to be someone who can try and help them is something I love.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.