There usually isn’t any silver lining for a coach when they lose a game. But when a coach loses to his son’s team, then that can make things tricky.
Gretna boys soccer coach Dave Fisch had become familiar with this situation the last two years when his Dragon team matched up with Papillion-La Vista South, who’s starting goalie is Cullen Fisch, his son.
“It’s become a fun rivalry,” Dave said. “Last year Papio South won and this year we edged them out.
“When Cullen made a save in the game, someone asked me, ‘How do you feel about that?’ It’s definitely a different feeling.”
The Gretna-Papio South game is a fun one for Cullen, who has became close with a lot of the Gretna players through club ball and being around his dad.
“His first year coaching there I was in eighth grade (2011) and I was always around the team,” Cullen said. “I know guys on the team and its nice to have a game that means so much personally.”
This year’s 2-1 Gretna win on March 29 was a perfect example of the little rivalry that has developed between the two schools.
“It was the most physical game we’ve played in,” Cullen said.
“There was a lot of talking on the field and I even bet a Gretna player $5 that he couldn’t score on me.”
The narrow win is just the type of result Dave hopes for when the two teams play.
“I hope our team wins but just barely,” he said. “If we could win on a goal that Cullen had no shot to save, that would be perfect.”
Cullen had already decided on going to Papio South when Dave got the Gretna job. They didn’t live in the Gretna school district so Cullen couldn’t have gone to Gretna if he wanted to.
But Cullen had his dad as his coach plenty growing up. Dave coached Cullen from about age three until he was 13 but that ended when Cullen decided to join Nebraska Futbol Club for his club team.
Dave enjoyed coaching his son but knew he had to stop at some point.
“You definitely can’t coach your kid forever,” Dave said. “It’s good for them to get a different coach and different style.”
But even since he’s stopped being his coach, he’s still there to give Cullen advice, even sometimes when Cullen didn’t want it. Sometimes after a game Dave would critique Cullen and Cullen wouldn’t want to here it.
“I’m a coach, so I want to help but I’ve learned that I need ask him if he wants feedback rather than just give it to him,” Dave said.
The adjustment from coach to spectator has been one that Dave has embraced and even enjoyed.
“I’ve enjoyed sitting back and watching him play,” he said. “I enjoy the game more watching him play and I don’t have as much stake in it as the coach.”
Both Fischs have experienced plenty of success at the high school level over the last few years.
Their two teams have been in the upper echelon of their respective classes over the last few years with Gretna making the State Tournament the last three years and Papillion-La Vista South the last two seasons.
Last year, the Titans were eliminated in the first round of state while the Dragons fell in overtime of the semifinals. Both squads are looking for another trip, especially in the Fisch family.
While Gretna is one of the favorites to win the Class B championship in May, Papio South is in a group of teams in Class A that are all very close in talent.
“Anyone can beat anyone right now in Class A,” Cullen said. “Five seconds can change a game or what happens at state.”
Despite both Fisch’s wanting to be in state, there would be no animosity if one made it and the other didn’t. They both enjoy watching each other’s team.
“I really love watching that team play,” Cullen said. “I have a Gretna state tournament shirt from last year and I love wearing it.”