Long before the idea of coaching had ever emerged in the mind of Dwight Findlay, soccer was a way of life.
Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Findlay spent his early days playing soccer as much as possible. If he wasn't in school, he was playing the game he loved.
"We put two rocks after school to make goals so we could play (soccer)," Findlay said. "During the middle of the day, we would get a ball and play in our uniforms. There was a culture of everybody playing all the time."
Findlay earned his 100th career win as the Hoggard boys soccer coach on Sept. 19, a milestone that took just 125 games to reach. Since being named the Vikings head coach in 2017, he's never had a losing record and has advanced as far as the fourth round in the state playoffs.
Earning a scholarship to play soccer in the U.S. when he was 20 years old, Findlay moved to a country he knew little about. His only knowledge of the U.S. came from a childhood trip to Disney World.
"My thought when I was coming to the States was that West Virginia was going to be like Disney World," he said with a laugh. "When that first winter came, I remember thinking I was not going to survive here."
A far cry from the warm beaches of the Caribbean, he adapted to life in West Virginia, where he played at Davis and Elkins, and graduated in 1995.
His pursuit of playing soccer professionally nearly became a reality when he made the team for Continental Indoor Soccer League side Pittsburgh Stingers. However, he ultimately settled in North Carolina for a teaching job that would sponsor his visa.
During his playing days in college, Findlay was taken aback by how coaches treated players.
"In college, I went to watch these kids play, and I would hear these coaches yelling, saying things like you're not good enough, you can't do this."
This style of coaching sparked the idea for his soccer club, Superb Soccer, one with a mission to build confidence in youth players through constructive principles on and off the field.
"I had this vision about starting a company geared around the idea that every child is superb," he said. "You were created for a purpose, and even though people say you can't amount to greatness, they may not understand that you are truly superb."
Coming to Hoggard
While Findlay spent many years coaching his club team, it wasn't until 2017 that he started at Hoggard. In his first season, the team went 21-2-1 and reached the state playoff quarterfinals.
But for Findlay, who rarely looks at accolades, his mission at Hoggard goes far beyond the soccer field.
"I knew it was important for me to be (at Hoggard) because of what I was trying to build in the game itself," he said. "The first year was great because the guys immediately adopted the idea that we were a team and could play with great character and represent something greater than ourselves."
Despite all of Hoggard's success, the team has yet to appear in a state title game, something Findlay says drives him each season.
"One of the things that I want to see happen is to see the Hoggard Vikings win a state championship," he said. "We always talk about the championship not being something that is won in one season, but it's won over a number of seasons and a lot of effort."
Findlay, now 52, isn't ready to give up coaching quite yet. Instead, his mission is to bring the values that soccer taught him to the high school and club levels for years to come.
"I think the game should be about how do we help and support some of these communities where kids have a strong passion for the game at home," he said. "It was because of my love for the game at home that opened the door and afforded me opportunities throughout my life."
SOURCE: Wilmington Star News