Jennifer Schutt's first time setting a lineup, deciding formations and making adjustments from the sidelines was as a rec league youth coach. It was there the former York College player had her passion for coaching ignited.
Nearly 10 years later, Schutt now finds herself as the head coach for the Columbus High girls soccer team.
Schutt has been playing soccer for as long as she can remember.
"I started playing when I was like three," she said. "My parents just threw me out there and I’ve been playing ever since. Now I coach my kids and coach everywhere else. Columbus seemed like a good fit, too."
Schutt said she enjoyed the game even from an early age. She can remember always being competitive and physical, even when she was just learning the ropes. That physicality, and the team aspect of what it took to be succesful appealed to her right away.
"It’s a collective effort from all 11," she said.
Schutt played soccer at York High School, at right wing, where she was a three-year starter and helped lead the Dukes to the district championship her junior and senior seasons.
After high school, she went on to play at York College for three years. She was moved to defender while with the Panthers.
"I like high intensity, pressure," Schutt said. "I was a defender, so I’m very defensive-minded. I like strong defenses, but I really like to work with the forwards because I like to make lots of goals."
While it's been a while, Columbus isn't Schutt's first high school head coaching position. She was the head coach for the Schuyler girls soccer team for two years during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
"I love soccer," she said. "I've loved everything about it since I was little. Now, I love the coaching."
She then took a job as the assistant coach at York High School for two years before taking a fourth-grade teaching position at Emerson Elementary in Columbus.
Luis Pulido led Columbus for four years before leaving to continue his education at Dakota Wesleyan where he will also be a graduate assistant soccer coach. The Discoverers went 41-25 in his four years, qualifying for state in 2017 and 2018, playing in a district final in 2016 and just missing out on a district final this past year due to the NSAA wildcard points standings.
Though the Columbus girls have yet to win a state title, coming closest with a runner-up finish in 2005, the Discoverer girls have been to state 12 times since the program made its first state trip in 1991.
"Columbus has always been a great soccer town and a great soccer community," she said. "It was definitely something I wanted to be a part of."
Schutt attended a handful of matches last year and has already started reviewing film from the season.
"I saw a lot of really good things from game footage and with what I saw last year I think we can just build on what coach Pulido did last year and take them past that 8-8 mark and get into a winning season next year," she said.
"Columbus has always been a really positive soccer community," Schutt said. "They have lots of great coaches, all the way from the youngest leagues all the way up to high school and that’s really something I wanted to be a part of. I just think it’s a great community. We’re going to have a lot of support from the community and from the administration here so it’s exciting to be a part of."
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org