Jason Curtis of Chapel Hill High Named North Carolina Soccer Coach of the Year
The winning tradition in Chapel Hill-Carrboro CIty Schools Athletics is powerful, and the accolades across the schools and sports continue to multiply. But even against the district backdrop of athletic victories and championships, the recent dominance of the mens and womens soccer teams from Chapel Hill High School is remarkable. Since becoming head coach in 2014, Jason Curtis has led his teams to three state championships, and earlier this month, he was named the National Federation of State High Schools (NFSH) 2017-18 North Carolina Coach of the Year for mens soccer.
When interviewed for the mounting collection of news reports on the teams’ successes, not to mention his own awards, Curtis is inevitably modest and deflects the credit back to his players and coaches. “It's really all about the players,” he often says. “They have done an outstanding job, boys and girls, and have helped create a fantastic team culture.”
Matthew Wolf, a junior on the most recent state championship team, said, “Coach Curtis is an amazing person, on and off the field and an incredible coach. He trusts his players to do their best; and year after year, he takes a new group and creates an incredible environment that encourages commitment and teamwork.”
Curtis’ overall record as head coach is 168-34-12, with his mens teams posting a record of 106-18-6, with a string of conference, regional, and state championships. He has been named conference and regional Coach of the Year three times already, and yet to see him on the field with his players, his youthfulness and energy make it hard to imagine that he has accumulated so many titles.
Ron Benson, Curtis’ mentor and predecessor as CHHS head coach, created a program that became legendary in North Carolina soccer circles. He coached in the district for 42 years, but it wasn’t until his final year that he brought home a state trophy. Beginning in 1999, his assistant coach was Jason Curtis, so the torch was passed within the CHHS soccer family. Today, their roles have flipped, and Coach Benson continues contributing as a volunteer assistant coach.
“We have a rich tradition at Chapel Hill High,” Curtis said, “going back to the early 70’s, and we are just trying to continue that tradition. I really can’t say enough about our coaching staff; Coaches Davis, Schoden and Benson do an amazing job, and any award I receive should have their names on it as well.”
“Coach Curtis and his staff have done an amazing job working with our kids,” said Tim Bennett, athletic director at CHHS. “They have continued to build on the success that Coach Benson started 30 years ago. The tradition and pride that is in our program is special. Our players work hard and believe in the coaches and each other. They have fun playing the game, and it shows on the field.”
Kalvin Matischak is another junior who played on the state championship team. “Coach Curtis is more than a soccer coach. I see him everyday before my first period class, a time when most high schoolers are extremely tired, and he always has a smile on his face, making me smile. He cares so much about every player, or even interested player, that he comes into contact with. He does not care about your skill level or what your background is, he will put all his effort into helping you do your best on and off of the pitch. He is one of the happiest people you will meet, always carrying his silly smile and joyful attitude.”
As Principal Charles Blanchard noted after the recent award was announced, “This honor recognizes Coach Curtis as a leader in the sport, who shapes the lives of his athletes and contributes in a positive way to our community. We are extremely proud of Coach Curtis and blessed to have him as a leader for our student athletes!”