In George Tsiobanos’ office inside the Sioux Body Shop, plaques from his career as a boys’ soccer coach hang on the walls. And now, after 8 state tournament appearances with two different schools, Tsiobanos is calling it a career.
“It’s a young man’s game,” Tsiobanos said. “You have to have energy. Well, I still have plenty of energy but still, I cannot compete with 25-year-old young men when they’re working 16 hours a day so yes it’s a young man’s game.”
After moving to America from Greece in the 1970s, Tsiobanos became the first head coach of the Sioux City North soccer program in 1985.
“[Soccer] was not a varsity sport [in 1985] but in 1987 it became a varsity sport. I coached from ’87 until ’96 and then I thought I retired back in ’96,” the longtime coach said.
But he came back in 1999. Tsiobanos made it to state 5 times with the Stars over two stints as their head coach, then he retired for good in 2003, or so he thought.
“For 10 years, I thought ‘I’m done coaching,'” He said. “Well then Heelan came knocking on my door one day and I said ‘No, I’m not interested. I’m done.’ And then again I said ‘Well maybe I’ll do it for a year or two’ and then I went in and I loved it.”
Then as the head coach of the Crusaders, he made it to state 3 more times, but after this season, he realized he really was done for good.
“If you cannot be 100 percent submerged in it then it’s time to go and that’s how I felt,” said Tsiobanos. “I still love it, but I find myself thinking ‘well, you know what, in March I should be in Arizona golfing instead of coaching soccer.'”
Though Tsiobanos never won a state title, as he looks back on a career with over 250 wins, he says success is measured in experience, not numbers.
“I don’t count the success on the victories and the losses,” he said. “I count the success on the relationships and the friendships over the years. And I know I influenced some young people and I know they influenced me.”
Tsiobanos says he’ll be focusing on his work at Sioux Body Shop now that his coaching career has come to a close.