As the three-week practice period begins in Putnam County on Monday, a new coach will run be running the show for Hurricane’s boys soccer team.
Cody Freas will take over for Jim Dagostine after serving as an assistant last year and helping in other aspects in years prior.
And while it marks a new beginning for Freas and the Redskins, it may mark the end for a coaching career that has spanned five decades.
Dagostine has been a staple in coaching in the area since the late 1960s, but will step away after coaching a plethora of different sports in several different places, shaping young lives across the Mountain State — and in particular, Putnam County — along the way. The 72-year-old also stepped away from Hurricane’s program before the 2013 season only to come back in 2015, and again wouldn’t say his coaching career is definitely over.
But in case it is, he offered his thoughts on a long, storied ride.
“I don’t want to talk about the end of my coaching career, I did that once and it hadn’t ended,” Dagostine said. “I’ll be done coaching when my health is poor and I can’t or when my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ calls me home. Let’s just say my role is changing and Hurricane boys soccer has a new head coach.”
Indeed, Dagostine plans to still help with the program in some capacity, but he also hopes to spend more time with family including his son, daughter, five grandsons and a great grandson.
“Anyone who knows me knows those boys keep me going and are the love of my life,” Dagostine said. “My family has sacrificed so much, however they have been by my side my entire career.”
Along the way Dagostine coached basketball, baseball, tennis, cross country, track, soccer and football on both the girls and boys sides at both the high school and middle school levels.
His first head coaching job came at Poca in 1969 in baseball. Then came a stint as a part-time assistant at WVU on the men’s basketball team, coinciding with the playing career of current WVU men’s coach Bob Huggins.
Though that time was special as well, Dagostine said it didn’t take long to figure out that his calling as a coach was on the prep level.
“My children were real young, I had just been divorced and I missed them,” Dagostine said. “It didn’t take many recruiting trips or nights going to scout on the road for weeks to realize that I missed my kids.”
From there, Dagostine landed at Ripley in the 1977-78 school year and coached basketball and track. Though only there for one season, he left quite an impression, including on a junior athlete named Mark Martin, now the sports director at WCHS.
“He was tough,” Martin said. “We had a bunch of guys when the [track] season started and by the end of the year we had about 10 guys left, but we all made the state track meet.
“Coach Dagostine has been great to me. I learned a lot from him, as much as anything about hard work and being classy as a person. I cherish that year I had with him and I’m happy we’ve maintained a wonderful friendship since. He’s a guy that when I see him will hug me and tell me he loves me and I really cherish that.”
Dagostine took over Hurricane Middle School’s soccer program in 1998 with admittedly little knowledge of the game. But by the time he’d left to take over Hurricane’s high school program in 2006, the middle school program had won five straight conference regular-season and tournament titles.
His first stint as the Redskins boys coach ended temporarily in 2013 after winning a Class AAA state championship in 2012, Dagostine’s first in any sport. He returned in 2015 to start a second successful tenure that culminated in another state championship in 2017. The Redskins entered last year’s state tournament as the favorites but were upset in the semifinals by Hedgesville 1-0.
All told, the Redskins went 190-36-24 under Dagostine with two state championships, six state tournament appearances and three Mountain State Athletic Conference titles. Also in that was a 2009 season in which Hurricane outscored opponents 101-0 in the regular season and finished nationally ranked at 20-1.
But as much as anything, Dagostine is proud of the facilities the program now enjoys.
“We had a bunch of hard-working parents, community donations of time and materials and help from some folks in the legislature,” Dagostine said. “The Putnam County Board of Education hired me at 22 and I spent 48 of 50 years with them. They have been a huge part of my life and always supportive of hiring [assistant] coaches and our facilities.”
If it turns out that this is it for Dagostine in terms of being a head coach, he leaves satisfied and thankful, two things he wanted to stress.
“Don’t let anyone ever say prayer, hard work and following God doesn’t lead to great things,” Dagostine said. “I’ll still be peddling around — I’ll continue to be a part of the boys soccer program as needed by [Freas]. I’ve truly been blessed.”