Helena Magazine

Sports Q&A – Clif Naron

Published 12:54 pm Monday, January 23, 2023

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Clif Naron, Helena High School Girls Soccer Coach

How did you begin coaching?
I actually worked out in non-education for about 20 years. And I really enjoyed working with kids and teaching people how to do their job. So, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. So I went back and got my master’s. Then, I ended up at Oak Mountain High School, for the first year that I was certified to teach, in the business education classes. And they knew that I had played high school sports or high school soccer and that I had played in adult leagues until my body couldn’t take the abuse anymore. And they asked me if I wanted to be an assistant with the girl’s program at Oak Mountain. We ended up going to State and winning that year 2014. So, when this school was opening at Helena, I moved over here with Helena and started the soccer programs here. That would have been 10 years ago. I’ve been here since the high school opened and just kind of built the program.

What’s it like having seen the growth in the program from the ground up?
Well, that really is one of the things that I really like, and I’m really probably more proud of. Our program here is one big program, from the seventh grade, middle school group all the way to high school. We’re one big soccer program here. We have parties where everybody’s there together, you know, we do a lot to create a culture here. So, for me, I’ve never really about the wins and losses. For me, it’s so much more about when these kids get to college or career or life, you know, have they learned something about determination, about being organized, about having empathy for their friends? Those soft life skills. I would trade all my wins to have more kids that find success out of something they learned in our program than just the wins and losses, you know, there’s so much more to it.

How would you describe your coaching style?
Set expectations and set goals. We go back, and we look at our play throughout the season, we watch film as most teams do, and we have certain metrics, it changes year by year, player by player. Then when we have a game, whether we performed well or not, we look at our metrics and say, absolutely right, or the numbers are wrong. But we can look at them and give ourselves an A in this category, B in this category, C in that category. From a coaching standpoint, again, mine comes so much more out of the love for working for the kids. It’s working with the kids and finding things that convinced them to be responsible, not just to themselves, but to their teammates.

What are you looking forward to about the upcoming season?
You know, I say this every year because we just continue to grow and we continue to get better as a program. Every year, we continue to get more competitive. The last four or five years I say, “This is our year.” I mean we’ve got more talent than we’ve ever had. Because we continue to get better, and because we continue to grow as a program, we continue to get competitive. So, you know, this year, we’ve got the toughest schedule we’ve ever had, we’re playing most of the big schools throughout our metro area. We really feel like we’re going to be successful this year with the young talent that we have, combined with a large senior/large junior group.