Girls Soccer Celebrates 25 Years
The Lourdes Girls Soccer team is celebrating 25 years this year! Coach Groven has been at the helm of this incredible program since day one. Hired by then Athletic Director Marv Peters in the spring of 1996, Groven was given the reins the following fall. Groven would be the first to admit that much of the work had been prior to that year. Former boys coach, Tom Kane and his wife Carmen officially started the programs here at LHS. Club teams had been formed and were playing for a year or two before they were Varsity sports. “Carmen joined me on the coaching staff and she was an incredible sounding board for me as I began the journey. I can’t thank the Kane family enough for their support throughout the years. I had the privilege of coaching their daughter, Meghan and I had all three of the Kane children in class in the early 2000s.” From there the program continued to grow and girls soccer made its mark in southeast Minnesota.
Coach Groven would be the first to say that the program has evolved and thrived because of the great support she has received over the years. "I was very young when I started coaching but I had a great support system". Groven credits Tracy Reilly, Marv Peters, Myron Glass, Denny Nigon and the late Dave Jewison for being there at the start. "I was just a kid when I started, newly married and soon to start a family. I was so grateful to be given the opportunity, and can hardly believe that it's been 25 years. This sport and this program have made such a huge impact in my life." As Groven reminisces about the past, she is proud of what the program is today. “I am still blessed with wonderful people at Lourdes. Mary Spring and Steve Strickland continue to support me and this awesome LHS soccer community. I am honored to be a part of a caring group of administrators, parents, teachers and students.”
Retired Lourdes Athletic Director Marv Peters sums it up best, "I am so thankful that we were able to get our awesome girls soccer program started. Thanks to our administration at the time, the dedication of our girls and the hiring of one super coach. The timing could not have been better. Our enrollment was strong, the interest in soccer was skyrocketing and our boys program had a fast start. Also, 25 years ago we hired a new language teacher, one Sarah Groven. I believe our program has had so much success because of our female athletes and one great coach. The Lourdes female athletes are among the best. Mrs. Groven has been our one and only girls soccer coach. Her coaching skills, her commitment to Lourdes and her devotion to the girls have made her one fantastic coach and person. One of the reasons for Lourdes' historical success in athletics has been the longevity of its coaches, Sarah’s 25 years fits that bill to perfection. Happy 25th Anniversary Lourdes Girls Soccer and to Coach Groven."
As the program approaches 350 wins, Coach Groven is hesitant about claiming these wins as her own. “I’ve been blessed with some incredible talent over the years and these wins are hardly mine alone. I remember the wins and losses, probably the losses more, but all of that is forgotten when I’m approached at the grocery store and a former player introduces me to her daughter. To see these girls grown into amazing young women is what it's all about. I love connecting with my former players. I enjoy hearing their stories about their playing days and where life has taken them since high school.” Many of Coach Groven’s athletes have returned and been a part of her coaching staff too. Currently, Kelly Melhorn ‘12 has been coaching the Junior High team for four years and will take over the Junior Varsity position next season. “One of the best compliments to the program is when the players come back to coach or help out. They are always welcome.”
Prior to the start of the 2021 season, the program has posted a record of 336-104-32. It has been HVL Conference Champs or Co-Champs 14 years, and has appeared in ten State Tournaments. Coach Groven has been awarded Section Coach of the Year four times in 1997, 2001, 2010 and 2017. She is also in the Minnesota State Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame, being the first female inducted (and youngest coach to be inducted at that time) in 2009. When asked about how much time she has left in her coaching career, Coach Groven smiles and says, “I have more years behind me than in front of me, but I love this program and this school and I’m not ready to give either of them up quite yet.”
"It's been a pleasure to work with Coach Groven. She is a tremendous leader and mentor to these ladies which has led to her having one of the strongest programs not only in Southeast Minnesota but in the State. Having a coach like Sarah makes being an Activities Director easy. We are truly thankful for her leadership and commitment to Lourdes High School and the young female athletes in the program," Steve Strickland, RCS Activities Director.