SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The leader of one of the most dominant high school soccer programs in Georgia is stepping down.
St. Vincent’s announced Friday head soccer coach Tess Tvrdy is stepping away after leading the Saints since 2012 and three consecutive Class AA state titles from 2017-2019. The Saints were the preseason favorites to win a fourth straight state title before the coronavirus pandemic forced the season to be canceled.
“I really feel like this ten year mark [at the school] to step out and maybe look around and see what else there is to offer,” Tvrdy says. “I knew it was time. Ten years is a great mark.”
Tvrdy was the GHSA Region 2-AA Coach of the Year from 2013-2019 and received the 2019-2020 Southeast Region Positive Coach of the Year Award.
But she admits the weight of being the targeted team for the past several years had begun to wear on her.
“It’s hard when you start every season and everyone’s like ‘Going to state, right?’" she says. “I needed to take a step back and take a break.”
Tvrdy says she decided this would be her last year before the season kicked off. But when the coronavirus pandemic ended it well before anyone imagined, she reconsidered for a short while.
In the end though, Tvrdy says stepping away is the right call.
“After talking it out with my family and my husband and working it out with them, I’d already kind of mourned the end of this chapter,” Tvrdy says. “I didn’t want to revisit it and open it up again. So I wanted to stick with my decision, even though it didn’t end the way I wanted it to end.”
Tvrdy says she’s most proud of the Saints’ three-peat, but says it was SVA’s state runner-up finish in 2016 that she remembers the most.
“Nobody saw us coming. Nobody thought we could do it, and we just worked our butts off to get there,” Tvrdy says. “From that experience losing, we learned and we just got stronger and better. It was really exciting.”
KNIGHT WILL TAKE OVER SAINTS’ PROGRAM
The school also announced Katie Knight will take over the program. Knight comes to St. Vincent’s after serving as an assistant at Benedictine since 2017. While with the Cadets, Knight served as the strength and conditioning coach and JV co-coach.
Knight comes to SVA with 16 years of soccer coaching experience.