HUNTINGTON -- Kyle Sniatecki feels like a goalkeeper trying to stop eight shots at once.
Welcome to high school coaching.
Sniatecki, a former Marshall University standout, is in his first year as boys head soccer coach at Huntington High School. He said he's found that the pressure of playing differs from the stress of coaching. Sniatecki, though, isn't complaining.
"I love it," Sniatecki said, with a grin. "It can be stressful making a living with 15- and 16-year-olds, but I'm enjoying it. It's a great way to stay a part of the game."
Sniatecki, who also operates a soccer training business, was a defender on the Marshall men's soccer team from 2008 through 2011. He came to Huntington from Buffalo, N.Y., loved the city and decided to stay. His experience led to him taking the Huntington High job.
Through his first dozen games, the Highlanders had a 5-8 record. That's not what Sniatecki wanted, but it's something he understands.
"We don't have a single senior (player)," Sniatecki said. "Not one. That's very unusual and we've had some growing pains. It's a process."
Maybe the most difficult aspect of that process is developing team leaders. With no seniors, other players have had to step up. Juniors Sirmon Brown, John Burdette, Ryan McGuffin, Jalen Pennington, Ian Simms, Beau Simpson, Constantine Svingos and Quintin Wood are among those who have taken various leadership roles.
"When you have a young team, you have to keep everyone from finger pointing when something goes wrong," Sniatecki said. "Now, it's finally starting to click. You teach the kids to have expectations for themselves and for others. You teach them how to handle the frustration when things do go your way. It's working. The boys enjoy the game."
Those are lessons Sniatecki hopes the players take with them off the soccer pitch and into everyday life.
Sniatecki has spoken at local church youth groups and other organizations and the messages on and off the field are similar. Sniatecki applies to his team lessons he learned while playing college soccer.
"Playing at the level I did has been useful," Sniatecki said. "It allows me to see a different perspective. Our players can appreciate that. They know I was where they are not too long ago."
Sniatecki said he stresses leading by example.
"No one is perfect," Sniatecki said. "I make mistakes. I know we can use sports as a way to grow up. We set a standard of performance. Be prompt, work hard, expect a lot. Learn how to act on and off the field. Hold yourself to a high standard. Our guys represent not just themselves but the city of Huntington."
Seeing his players and the sport grow brings some satisfaction to Sniatecki.
"I enjoy it," Sniatecki said. "I love it. There is a passion for it in this area. I'm thankful for it and I want to shape it as much as I can.
"I want to see some of these guys leading kids in five or 10 years."