One coach. One sport. Two teams.
Eagan's Bulut Ozturk would just be another coach in cross-country, a sport where coaches often direct two genders. But he's something unique as a soccer coach wearing two hats this fall.
Ozturk built a dynasty on the girls' side, coaching the Wildcats to three state championships in four seasons, including the Class 2A title last fall. Now he's added the boys' program, leading players eager to reach the heights of their female counterparts.
"He's been amazing with the girls, and I want some of that amazingness to seep into our program because it's been lackluster," senior captain Hunter Goff said.
Ozturk ran four practices Monday, for the freshman and sophomore boys, then the girls, followed by the juniors and seniors groups. The older girls practiced under a hot afternoon sun, and on breaks they sought relief in a nearby sprinkler or in the shade under a blue canopy.
Large speakers across the field provided a soundtrack for football practice and were loud enough to bring a welcome addition to soccer workouts.
Ozturk sat evaluating players, taking a different approach based on the teams' track records. With his girls' group, which includes nine players who played in the championship game, Ozturk said he could "step back a little because the standards, expectations and hunger are still there. I usually go on cruise control in the playoffs, but that's how I feel today. The girls came in fit and are working hard."
Senior goalkeeper Megan Plaschko, a four-year starter and a veteran of two championship teams, said Ozturk "makes us want to work hard for him and for each other. He's a natural-born leader and he makes you see your potential. No matter your age or gender."
Plaschko, along with defensive players Abigail McKenzie, Chloe Miller and Jessica Van Wyk, form a core group that the goalie said "can lock anyone down defensively. Up top we'll be a little younger. and that's exciting because they will bring a new taste to our offense."
Ozturk has coached as many as three teams simultaneously when adding in his club soccer responsibilities. Still, he approached the girls' team to get their blessing.
"He told us, 'This is been my team for five seasons and nothing will change. I'll be as committed as I've always been,' " Plaschko said. "We were a little worried, but he's made it known that he will do everything he's been doing for both teams to make both teams successful."