Having started his legendary high school soccer coaching career in the 1970s, Cy Tucker didn’t plan on taking a year off recently.
Retiring from South Oldham (Ky.) after winning the state title in 2014, Tucker was an assistant to friend and colleague Kenyon Meyer at Assumption in 2015 before finding himself without a program in 2016.
“Well, it was OK, but I didn’t really want the year off because I had a great year at Assumption,” Tucker said Monday night after the turf field at South Oldham High School was named Cy Tucker Field. “It was a really good year. But Kenyon decided he had enough and the new coach came in and decided he didn’t want us old farts around, so he sent us on his way.”
It didn’t take Tucker long to find a new home. In 2017, he joined Libbey Smith on the sideline at Oldham County. When Smith was named Sacred Heart’s coach in December 2017 following Jaclyn Puntillo’s resignation a month earlier, Tucker tagged along as an assistant.
While he does enjoy being around the sport in a full-time capacity, the more relaxed schedule has some perks. He’s able to spend more time with his two grandchildren, a 3-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy. Both attended Monday’s ceremony.
Tucker also has been able to go to Lexington to watch youngest daughter Ally serve as head coach at Tates Creek. He saw one of the Commodores’ games from the sideline earlier this month but could get an up-close view in September as both Sacred Heart and Tates Creek are in the same bracket for the prestigious Lexington Catholic Cup.
“She’s a really good coach,” said Tucker, noting he sees some of his better qualities in his daughter. “I think it’s the coaching piece. She just loves it.”
Tucker joked that at least one important member of his family wasn’t exactly thrilled the coaching tree was destined to continue.
“I remember my wife, Marcie, saying that when she found out Ally was going to be coaching high school after graduating from Transylvania,” Tucker said. “She just said, ‘Now I’ve got two of you.’”
Tucker said Sacred Heart’s Smith is a talented head coach in her own right and sometimes doesn’t lean on him as much as he would expect because she knows what decisions to make.
In that aspect, Tucker enjoys being the wise sage to a fledgling up-and-comer.
“I love it,” he said. “If I knew being an assistant coach was this much fun, that (pointing out his name on the scoreboard) never would have happened probably. Because I really like it. I really do. A lot less stress. No stress. Getting myself there on time. That’s it.”
Tucker, who was a charter member as a player for a Louisville high school (Atherton) and the metro area’s first club team (Tyler Park), started getting himself there on time as a coach in 1976, when he started the boys program at St. Francis. He eventually moved over to Walden. In 1989, he joined South Oldham as the boys coach before starting the South Oldham girls program in 1990.
He led the South Oldham girls to six state championships in the seven-year span from 1995-2001 and added a seventh title in his final year (2014). He stepped away from South Oldham with a record of 378-119-25, compiling the most victories ever for a girls soccer coach in Kentucky. He was the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s Girls Soccer Coach of the Year in 2014.
And don’t expect the 66-year-old Tucker to ride off into the sunset any time soon.
“Well, we’ll do a check come the end of dead period next year and see how things are going,” he said. “I could see myself doing it for a while longer. I still really enjoy it.”