Deer Isle—Deer Isle-Stonington High School boys soccer coach Joey Stinson has been leading the team for the last three seasons but his connection to the Mariner team goes back to his childhood growing up on the island.
Stinson was a four-year member of the team but he was practicing with the team before high school, when there was not yet a middle school program.
“[Then high school coach] Charlie Sullivan drove by my house when I was in seventh grade and saw me juggling a soccer ball,” said Stinson. “He asked my dad if he would allow me to practice with the high school team. So there I was, all of 80 pounds. [Sullivan] drove me to and from practices, even fed me some times. He was always willing to go that extra mile.”
Going the extra mile is an attitude Stinson said he has carried with him into his decade long coaching career. He coached at the youth level while living in Kentucky and Indiana before returning to the Mariners as coach.
“I think I always knew it was going to happen,” he said. “It was just a feeling I had. I always loved the underdog story, and I think that’s a story we’re still telling here.”
With few youth-level soccer programs in the area, it has been a challenge to get interest from athletes at the school. Stinson said he has constantly talked with those athletes, most of whom have a focus on basketball, to try to get them to play.
“If you play soccer, you’ll get better at basketball too,” he said. “Your footwork, your cardio, it all works together.”
Stinson has had a mix of experience with his teams over the last three years, which has led him to coach with the mindset that heart and passion matter more than the wins and losses.
“Soccer is about more than just the game,” he said. “It’s about learning life lessons, how to work with your teammates and working through differences of opinion and personality. Once you break down those boundaries and work together, the wins will come.”
Stinson said that looking at the sport in the bigger picture is also how he would describe his coaching style. Instead of focusing on the talent alone, he also gives chances to the players he sees giving the biggest effort.
“It’s about heart. Kids sometimes don’t know their potential unless they’re given a chance,” he said.