Couple’s spirit shines in commitment

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Forest Park girls soccer coach Amanda Gogel, left, and boys coach Brent Sicard chatted between games during Monday’s senior night in Bretzville. The couple, who have been dating since the spring of 2008, got engaged late last year. The Ranger boys and girls teams both have a game Thursday night. Two days later, Gogel and Sicard will have their wedding in Jasper. It’s a relationship interwoven and strengthened by the sport for which they share a passion.

By JOE JASINSKI
Herald Sports Writer

The way it started shouldn’t surprise a soul.

Brent Sicard and Amanda Gogel saw each other at a wedding in late winter of 2008, before which the two hadn’t talked much besides during the occasional crossing of paths. When conversation did start between the longtime family friends, it began with the obvious.

“When we talked at the wedding, the first thing I asked her about was the season,” Sicard said. “That’s kind of how the whole conversation even started.”

At the time, Gogel was a junior on Indiana State University’s soccer squad. Meanwhile, Sicard worked at Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis, where IUPUI plays its soccer matches.

First they talked, then began dating about the time St. Patrick’s Day rolled around, by Gogel’s recollection. Once she graduated the following spring, the two both returned to Ferdinand, where Sicard became head coach of the Forest Park boys soccer team and Gogel initially served as an assistant for the girls squad before becoming head coach last fall.

Now nearly six years removed from their friendly chat at the wedding, the Ranger coaches will celebrate their own matrimony Saturday.

Throughout the relationship’s course, there’s been soccer — coaching, playing, watching, talking. Through each and every form of consumption, they digest well beyond the required dosage.

So it’s far from shocking that Sunday, just six days before the ceremony, the two spent the early part of the day watching Manchester United clash with Manchester City in the English Premier League’s fiercest rivalry, surrounded by a few friends at their house in Ferdinand. It’s the unwound occasions they cherish, with soccer intertwined, of course.

“Soccer is such a big part of our life,” said Gogel, who helped Sicard round up student referees for a Kiwanis youth soccer league during the match. “Just look at today, we’re watching soccer.”

It’s been that way since the beginning. Once Gogel’s senior year at ISU rolled around, Sicard left work early to drive to Terre Haute for each Sycamore home game. Many times, they met at the Chatham Tap on Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis, considered the premier soccer viewing venue in the city. Inside the cozy English pub, they soaked in the atmosphere and watched weekend matches together.

However, the Great Recession left Sicard unemployed by 2009. When he heard about the head coaching position at Forest Park, returning to Ferdinand became the obvious answer. Amid the flurry of job applications, Gogel decided coming home would be best as well.

Now, perhaps the majority of the couple’s time together revolves around the soccer field. Not only do the Ranger boys and girls teams play back-to-back matches on the same night four times this season, but the coaches organized scrimmages between both teams during the preseason and will occasionally hold joint practices.

And in a way, that’s how they both view the coaching experience. Not as a boys team and a girls team, but as a unified program. Sicard often talks with Gogel’s players after matches, and vice versa. Gogel encourages her players to attend any boys match that’s within reasonable distance, and the other way around.

Coaching becomes a collaboration.

“We support each other and we’ll ask questions,” said Gogel, a 2004 Forest Park graduate. “If he sees something from the outside perspective then he’ll come home and say, ”˜Hey, you should try doing this, this and this.’”

The commonality benefits both.

“It’s nice having someone you can come home and talk to about what’s going on and they can relate because they’re in the same situation,” said Sicard, a 1999 Forest Park graduate.

“I care about what’s going on with her team. So when she’s telling me about it, I’m involved in the conversation. We come home from a game, she wants to know how we did, if we played well. … That’s a part of our relationship: simply talking about soccer.”

Surprisingly, the melding of a soccer season and wedding preparations has been a saving grace, the two believe. Neither has stressed much about the wedding thanks in large part to help from Gogel’s parents, Paul and Paula, and Sicard’s folks, Ken and Monica — but also because they simply haven’t had time to dwell on the matter.

When they find a free second, there’s a wedding chore to work on. Gogel’s players have even helped with preparations, like peeling labels off wine bottles. Recent dates have involved yard work and laundry.

“That was a good date night,” Sicard joked. “Do laundry and clean the house we haven’t been in for more than eight minutes in the last three days.”

Even the wedding date took a back seat to other priorities. Since the Gogel family business, Ferdinand Processing, remains busy from the end of October through February with deer season, and neither bride nor groom was fond of a sweaty summer ceremony, having it smack dab in the middle of soccer season created little bother.

Plus, the seasonal duties remain paramount. Perhaps nothing better encapsulates the relatively selfless relationship better: Coaching has remained the top priority. Wedding obligations play the subordinate. For instance, Gogel’s been told wedding decorations are often overlooked by guests. The message: Don’t fret. Keep it simple.

“We’re in coaching mode,” Sicard said with a grin. “We’re dedicated to that.”

Dedicated could be an understatement. Soccer has been an essential element in each’s life since Sicard set the Forest Park single-season scoring record (31 goals) in 1998. And the same for Gogel, who set a new girls record with 42 scores six years later. Each record stands.

Both are ultracompetitive by nature. Gogel, who works in office management at Ferdinand Processing, admits she still struggles to remain positive and talkative after some losses as a coach because defeats typically sent her into steaming silence as a player. Sicard, an electrician for Weyer Electric in Ferdinand, still becomes perplexed when he hears players laughing on the bus ride home after dropping a match. But each remains cognizant that not everyone shares their spirit for success.

With all the focus on soccer, they haven’t even planned a honeymoon. And since Gogel will begin coaching girls freshman basketball this winter, it’s not likely to be scheduled for any time before February.

So now the two barrel down the fall’s home stretch. Saturday, they’ll be wed. Before then, they have to make sure a tent is raised, the stage and dance floor are built for the reception at Ferdinand State Forest and that both of their teams are prepared for games Thursday. After the weekend, they’ll enjoy a few days off. Come next Thursday, however, Gogel’s girls will battle Jasper and Sicard’s boys will tussle with Gibson Southern.

Back to the grind. Together.

“You don’t have time to think about it,” Gogel said of the wedding.

Especially not now. Another match should be starting soon.

Contact Joe Jasinski at jjasinski@dcherald.com.




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