By Kyle Daubs
Ryan Ghere has been both a math teacher and soccer coach at Mattoon High for two decades.
But he was just dad to the Ghere boys.
Jake and Shane Ghere spent a lot of time with their dad, walking the sidelines as a ballboy when they were younger. Growing up with this life was just normal.
“We saw him a lot. People would ask how we would deal with it,” said Jake, now a senior in college. “It was like having three different dads. We would have him in class and then on the field, but then at home, he was just my dad. He knew how to separate the two and not mesh everything together.”
Dad was more likely to bring up a bad math test than a failed set play at practice.
“He never brought up practice or a bad play because he hated it when other people brought up bad games to their kids,” said Shane, a junior in college. “He always said that would make them hate the game. He got on us more about school than he did soccer.”
Soccer was talked about plenty, though.
Jake and Shane were a part of one the most successful runs in school history. Jake was a sophomore and Shane was a freshman when the Green Wave won 22 consecutive games to finish with a school-best 22-1 record. Jake’s team would go a combined 40-6-6 his next two seasons as he would finish with multiple scoring records.
Jake finished his career with the record for goals in a game (6), goals in a season (43), and goals in a career (121). By the end of his senior year, the Green Wave capped off their fifth straight Apollo Conference championship.
“When we won the conference my senior year, that was to keep the streak alive,” said Jake. “I don’t remember the game. I remember what happened afterward. I remembered the excitement because it hadn’t been done before. Those years were a blast. I’m glad they are behind me, but I’m upset that we don’t get to live through it again.”
Shane played one more season after his brother graduated in 2019. His senior season featured an identical 21-2-3 record during the 2018 season, although the team failed to win a Regional Championship or a conference title. He finished his career as the record holder for single-season assists (26) and assists in a career (59). Both Jake and Shane finished their career as All-State selections.
Shane remembers how his dad started the Mattoon club soccer team, saying it built the talent for those teams. He said the experience with those teams helped the team compete at a high level.
“We went into every game not just thinking we could win, but knowing we would win if we played the way we knew,” said Shane. “The closer games were more fun. They were physical and so much fun to play. All of those kids had played together since we were 10. We were used to playing with each other because we had played together for so long.”
Make no mistake though, it didn’t matter the score, it was going to be an intense game, which Jake credits to being a life skill.
“He coached us to be set up for how we value life,” said Jake. “He always told us to never settle. We could be up 7-0 and he would still have something to tell us about what we needed to do better. He never wanted any of us to settle for anything no matter how good you were.”
That mantra helped build Mattoon into a competitive soccer program over the years. In his 25th season as boys soccer coach, Ghere has compiled 297 career wins, six Regional Championships, five Apollo Conference championships, and one trip to the Elite 8.
“Soccer has been in our lives ever since I can remember,” said Jake. “I was two years old when they went to the state, and we still have pictures all over the place. It’s weird to think that his legacy has touched so many people and connected me to so many others without knowing it.”
While Shane was one year old during the team’s lone trip to the state tournament, he knows all about how his dad started his coaching career. That featured an 0-19-2 record in his first season and six combined wins in his first three seasons.
“He built this program up to be a state team, started club teams, and then Mattoon got pretty good,” said Shane. “The work he put into it produced good outcomes. He didn’t do it for himself. He did it for all of us. It was a lot of fun, so I am glad he did it.”
Tonight, Mattoon will host Charleston at MHS Field in their final regular season game of the season. It won’t be the last time he coaches on the field, though – he will coach his daughter Lily and the girls team in the spring.
However, next fall will not feature Ghere on the sidelines as the boys’ coach for the first time in more than two decades.
Jake said his dad won’t stay bored for too long, even if it means conning his two boys to come over.
“He’s one of those guys that will find something to do, if he has nothing to do,” said Jake. “I’m sure he’ll pick up a hobby. He already hunts every chance he gets whenever he is free. If not, I’m sure he’ll find some hobby that Shane and I will come over.”