Woog waves goodbye to Staples soccer program


Photo by Katie Simons '22

Dan Woog ‘71 is retiring from his position as the Staples boys’ soccer coach after 19 years. He has coached the team to four FCIAC championships.

When asked about his time as the head coach of the Staples boys’ soccer varsity team, a wide smile spreads across Dan Woog’s ’71 face and his eyes light up as he talks about his sport. However, after four FCIAC championships, a state championship, 18 All-American awards for Academic Excellence and 19 years of coaching, Woog is finally retiring.

“I realized last year in 2020, when we had our COVID season, what life would be like […] without the pressure,” Woog said. “As I saw very early this year, the type of team we had and the people on it, I realized this was a great group to go out with. I love them. Fortunately, they accomplished a ton. The program is in good hands. It is time for the younger generation to take over.” 

Woog played soccer as a high schooler at Staples, and after graduating from Brown University, he started the Westport youth soccer league, which eventually turned into the present-day Westport Soccer Association. In 1983 he became the Staples freshman soccer coach, which evolved into the JV coach, then assistant varsity coach, until he was named only the third ever Staples boys soccer head coach in 2003. 

Throughout the countless years Woog has spent coaching on the Loeffler Field in the autumn weather, he’s found what he admires most about soccer: the athletes. 

“What I love about soccer is that it attracts creative, intelligent, independent athletes who can think for themselves. A coach’s job really ends when a game begins. You can’t call timeout, you can’t diagram plays, players have to figure it out for themselves,” Woog said. 

As Woog recounted his time as coach, he refrained from talking about the role he played as coach or about the championships the team won. Instead, Woog talked about the wonderful players he’s been able to work with throughout his years. 

“It’s not [about] a win or loss. It’s the people,” Woog said. “It’s the whole environment of helping to start with a freshman, seeing what they become by the beginning of senior year, and then they have no idea what’s ahead and by the end of the senior year they have that feeling with them and with my fellow coaches, of everything we’ve been through, of laughter, of tears, of being out in the in the August heat and the November cold.”

Appreciating the people instead of just the game is a sentiment that reigns true with captain Bruno Guiduli ’22. 

“Dan helped me understand the components to soccer and a team environment in realms far away from just on the field,” Guiduli said. “He taught me about integrity and commitment and helped me grow a lot as a person.”

These lessons were learned at practices, where Woog always hoped his players were eager to participate in an activity that provided them with a relief from the stressful school day.  

“What I tried to do as a coach is make sure that the 90 minutes or two hours we were together every day were the best two hours of that day for those kids,” Woog said. “Didn’t mean it was always easy, didn’t mean it was always fun, but, when they’re sitting in class, they may not want to be in functions or in government or wherever, but I wanted them to look forward to each day and each season.”

While Woog has many plans for retirement —working on his blog, continuing his work advocating for the LGBTQ community— his support of the Staples soccer team will remain steadfast, even if he isn’t the one calling the plays anymore. 

“[Retirement is] like when they build a new highway, and the day they open it it’s bumper to bumper. I have already filled up all the five hours a day that I used to spend on soccer,” Woog said. “I will be on the hill watching every game. And now the sun won’t be in my eyes.”