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story.lead_photo.caption Eagles soccer head coach Don Koontz poses for a portrait at Judy Kelley Morgan soccer field in Texarkana, Texas. Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

Don Koontz has coached women's soccer at Texas A&M University-Texarkana for five years. He has elevated the program considerably during his tenure at the university, which started in 2015.

Don, who also coaches the men's team, grew up in Conroe, Texas, and made a name for himself playing soccer and also running track and field.

He went to Texas Tech University on a track-and-field scholarship where he was a two-time, All-Southwest Conference 800-meter runner and member of the Texas Tech men's soccer team that won the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association National Championship in 1997. Don earned his master's degree in kinesiology from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, and a bachelor's degree in exercise science from Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

His coaching philosophy focuses on speed and being in excellent physical condition.

Don's love for soccer almost didn't happen. He said when he was in first or second grade, he brought home a signup sheet from school for a soccer league — but his dad wasn't enthused. "At recess we'd play soccer and my team would always win but dad said we didn't know anything about soccer. He also said you have to be in shape to play soccer. Dad ran track and marathons, so for the next three or four months all I did was go to the track with him and run," Don said. His determination paid off in a big way. "One day, I think it was Thanksgiving, he signed us up for a Turkey trot. I ran a 2-mile race and won it for my age division."

On the way home from the race, his dad stopped by the soccer park. Don was excited because he thought he was going to get to watch the kids play a game but the surprise his dad had waiting for him was even better. His dad went around to the trunk and pulled out a paper bag. Inside the bag was a pair of soccer cleats. Don put on the cleats and followed his dad to the field.

"He said 'Let's go over there and see what they're doing.' Then he introduced me to a man and said this is going to be your coach," Don said.

Although young Don hadn't been to a formal practice, they put him in the game on defense told him not to let the other team score. "I won my first cross-country run and played in my first soccer game on the same day, and I've been doing both ever since," Don said, remembering the day with fondness. "The name of the team was the Montgomery County Blue Bombers. After that I played soccer every season, fall and spring. And when my little brother started playing several years, later my dad ended up coaching his team and I helped. By then I was 12 or 13 and I've been coaching ever since." 

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