New Hillsboro athletic director Chris Schacht has had a couple of weeks to let things settle down after being named to the position. It’s been good to allow him to think about how the entire situation played itself out, and contemplate the impact he has made as a coach and teacher, and the influence he will now have as an athletic director and administrator.
So how does a soccer coach, who had won a combined 432 matches between coaching the boys and girls teams at Hillsboro, decide to make this move? “The timing of the opportunity was key,” he admitted. “If I were to move on, there were a few things that were necessary to me. I really wanted to have the opportunity to coach my daughter. I spent so much time with the high school teams that I didn’t have time to help out or coach her teams while she was growing up. I had that opportunity, and I had a blast with her and the girls she grew up with. The other caveat was to know that both the boys and girls programs are in a good place and ready to go forward. I am confident of that, and can not wait to see them compete in the near future.”
And with those necessary components in place, it still wasn’t easy to take that final step into the administrative field. “It was a very difficult decision that took some time to decide,” he confessed. “Regardless of the difficulty, I am confident in the decision I have made.”
And apparently so are the powers-that-be at Hillsboro. Schacht takes over for Eddie Moreno, who worked at HHS as athletic director for 11 years. There’s no doubt that Schacht’s experience, and his familiarity with the programs and coaches, is a big plus. “I’ve seen many coaches and sponsors come and go, and I truly believe we have as good a group as we’ve had in my time here,” he stated. “I’m excited to work with all of them to help give our students the most positive high school experience possible.”
Schacht came in as boys soccer coach in 1999, the second year of the team’s existence. He began coaching the girls also in 1999, after the program had existed for two seasons. Since Hillsboro soccer began in the spring of 1997, this spring’s cancelation of the season will even up seasons played for both teams. He also took a brief break from coaching the girls in 2006 and 2007 as he led the Hawks’ golf team.
But he certainly hangs his hat on the soccer program. The boys won three district and conference championships during his tenure, and made it to the state quarterfinals in 2019. Little did he know that his final time coaching would come with that 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Statesmen from Webster Groves. Coach Schacht was happy to end things with such a special team. “We’ve always told our players that a coach-led team can be good, but a player-led team can be great. The 2019 boys team had great leadership amongst the players, and was so much fun to coach. Matches were fun, but the daily training sessions were even more fun for us coaches. If that mid-November Saturday match against Webster Groves is the last one I coach, I’m comfortable with that.”
It was a little different scenario with the girls. His first six years of coaching were pretty rough, as the program slowly developed. Hillsboro won just 28 matches at that point. When Schacht returned in 2008, his teams accumulated 145 wins, four district championships, and a state quarterfinal appearance in 2018. And having those four years with his daughter, Abby Schacht, was the proverbial icing on the cake. “Being a father, getting a front row seat to watch my daughter scoring the game winner in our last girls district championship, and then knocking in three in the first half of the sectional round five days later to help propel us to the state quarterfinal was a bonus. Getting to coach my only child in a sport that I played for so many years was so special in so many ways, even if she didn’t have the success she did.”
And for any coach who has coached as long as Coach Schacht has, it’s almost impossible to list his biggest highlights. “Obviously the players that put up big numbers are the ones that jump out, but so many that didn’t play in positions that garnered that type of attention are just as important. As a coach, some would include the first district title for each program, the sectional wins for both programs to earn a spot in the state quarterfinals are all right at the top. All of these were great on the field accomplishments, but I honestly have to say I enjoyed senior night 42 times over more than all the wins or championships. It was kind of the culmination of the time and effort the players have put into the program, and seeing how much they’ve grown from kids to productive young adults ready to take their next step in life. Knowing that our staff got to play a part in helping them through their high school journey is really hard to put into words.”
So now Coach Schacht (and you know everyone will still call him “Coach”) will shift his focus. But will he really? His main objective in his new position is “to do what I can to help students involved in activities and athletics get the most out of their educational experience at Hillsboro.” That pretty much sounds exactly what he did as teacher and coach. And he’ll still keep building life-long relationships, because that’s what good teachers, good coaches, and good administrators do. “The relationships mean everything,” he emphasized. “I actually have a team photo of every team I coached hanging on the wall in my basement. Sometimes I look at those, and so many memories come flooding in. I can’t put a price on those relationships I have with those players. There are many of them I still communicate with, and it’s always great to hear from them, and hear what they are doing, and how their life has unfolded.”
And no one gets to where Schacht is without a lot of people supporting him behind the scenes. “My dad, William Jr., helped instill leadership in me, and my mom, Carol, taught me humility, both very important things to help shape me into who I am,” he recalled. “Some of the coaches I have worked with…Josh Carroll, Jess Jacaty, Kyle Jarnagin, Clancy Moore, Tish Naeger, Sam Nansel, and Amber Parks…have been with me through thick and thin, kept me on track, and were all instrumental in helping build soccer into a successful Hillsboro program. To every player who wore our crest, thank you for choosing to do so and putting in the time. And lastly, my family…daughter Abby and wife Christy…who have supported me in my career even though it took me away from them on many occasions. Thank you for putting up with me during some of the rough times through the years.”
As far as who’ll be replacing him on the sidelines, he could only say, “We are hoping to get the new coach(es) hired soon, as we would like for everything to get established for them as soon as possible.”
Coach Schacht begins his athletic director duties officially on July 1.