PARK HILLS – David Gronotte played up front and scored goals while at Covington Catholic High School.
The former Colonels soccer player moves across the street this month to take over the girls program at Notre Dame Academy. Gronotte replaces longtime coach Sara Raaker-McSorley, who resigned after last season to spend more time with her family.
“It’s big shoes to fill,” he said. “She did an excellent job for many years. With that tradition, it’s exciting to be a part of and I hope to keep going in the right direction. It starts with everybody being committed and coming in to work hard every day, players and staff.”
McSorley had been head coach at Notre Dame since 2004 and compiled a 195-40-19 record, led three teams to state titles (2004, 2011 and 2013) and two others to state runner-up finishes (2009 and 2012).
While he hasn’t been involved with Cov Cath in several years, Gronotte has coached club soccer and assisted with Cov Cath’s freshman team. He graduated from Cov Cath in 1993 after playing soccer, basketball and baseball and played club soccer at the University of Kentucky, where he graduated in 1997.
While he gets accustomed to his new team, he is hoping the Pandas can continue their balanced approach to winning. Last season, the defense was particularly strong, not allowing a single goal in nine postseason games and only giving up nine markers for the season. NDA was also tough up front, scoring 3.5 goals a contest.
“As a player, I was a striker so I like to stick the ball in the back of the net,” he said. “Everything starts from the back, with the goalie, being able to work it up through the defense and midfield. We have to be skilled in the back and be able to possess the ball and be able to finish as well.”
Official tryouts start July 21, and Gronotte has only seen his Pandas in open-field sessions. The Pandas graduated eight seniors from last year’s state champs, but have shown the ability to reload their roster from one year to the next.
“I’ve been very impressed with their abilities,” he said. “We need everybody to focus on individual player development for the better of the team. I told them the other night it’s important to play for the name on the front rather than the name on the back.”
Among top Pandas projected to return are their top three goal-scorers in Mandy Arnzen (22 goals), Christin Sherrard (14) and Taylor Watts (13), defender and state tourney MVP Libby Greenwell, and goalkeepers Maddy Kim and Courtney Hansel.
NDA starts at Beechwood Aug. 18 and hosts Holy Cross Aug. 20.
Follow James Weber on Twitter, @RecorderWeber