In loving memory of Coach Steve Cummins
Sponsored by the Lakota West High School Booster Club
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From the time of his arrival at Lakota preceding the start of the 1983 season until his untimely death during the 2003 season Steve Cummins was the guiding light of Lakota Soccer.
In 1983 Cummins took over a Lakota program that had produced just one winning season in the first seven years of its existence. That was all soon to change. Lakota posted a winning season in 1984 and in every one of the 12 seasons to follow. When Lakota split into Lakota East and Lakota West in 1997 Cummins cast his fortune with West and kept the Firebirds on the winning side of the ledger for an additional seven seasons.
Although Cummins upgraded the schedules his Lakota teams played to include all the top teams in Cincinnati and many from Columbus and Dayton, he guided his teams to 20 consecutive winning seasons.
Cummin’s influence on Lakota soccer reached beyond the boundaries of his own team. His wise counsel and advice to the fledgling girls soccer program in the early years at Lakota helped to propel them to a stature equaling that of his boys teams. In addition, when Lakota split in 1997 it was his former assistant coach and star player, Dan Landrum, that took over the Lakota East program, bringing them to statewide prominence and the district’s first Division 1 final four appearance in 1999. Indeed, Cummin’s influence on Cincinnati soccer has been immense. At the time of his death, the head coaches of three successful Cincinnati high school programs besides his own were his former assistants.
Cummin’s final record as a head coach, all in the Lakota School District, was 255 -80-65 (71.9% winning percentage). He was the 6th winningest coach in the history of Ohio High School boys soccer and was steadily climbing the Ohio career win ladder. Only 50 years old at the time of his passing, he was on a pace that could have led to his becoming the winningest Ohio coach of all time.
Cummins arrival at Lakota came shortly after the Thunderbirds had entered the Greater Miami Conference. Playing in what was at that time a six team league, Lakota had never placed in higher than third. In subsequent years, Cummin’s teams placed in the top two sixteen times. He won or shared an unprecedented eleven GMC championships including a run of seven consecutive from 1988 through 1994. His total included nine Lakota championships and two Lakota West championships, the latter coming while playing in a ten member GMC.
Before 1983 Lakota’s seven year cumulative record in the state tournament was 1-7. Cummin’s Lakota teams won 48 of 68 tournament games for a winning percentage of 71%. He coached six teams which reached the state final 8, and his 2000 and 2003 teams went on to the state final four where they lost to the eventual state champions in both years.
Cummins was a student of the game and a fixture on the national coaching scene. He achieved his “A” national coaching license in 1988, one of the first coaches in Ohio to do so. He served on the senior coaching staff of the Club Ohio Dynamo select program for 12 summers, taking six Dynamo teams to the national final four, including 1994 when his U-17 team won the national championship. He also coached 11 select teams to Ohio State Cup championships, more than any other boys coach in Ohio.
In Cummin’s youth, soccer was not a high school interscholastic sport in Ohio. He was introduced to soccer by two English employees of his father. They played on local club teams and by the age of 15 Cummins had joined them playing in the adult club leagues around Columbus. He went on to become the goalkeeper for Miami University in 1971 and 1972. After serving a stint in the military, he returned to Miami and played for the University’s 1975 and 1976 teams.
Upon graduation from Miami in 1977, Cummins began his teaching career in Columbus. He supplemented his income by playing semi-professional soccer for the Olympic and Germania soccer clubs continuing an active playing career through the 1985 summer season. Cummins began his high school soccer coaching career at Upper Arlington High school in 1979 when he was put in charge of the freshman team. His next coaching and teaching spot was Lakota.
Cummins has stated that when he left his hometown of Columbus back in 1983, he did so under the impression that his stop in West Chester would be a temporary one, the first of many different coaching jobs. He later stated, “Now I can’t imagine leaving. You never think you’re going to stay anywhere this long, but we really like this community and you couldn’t ask for a better environment to coach in.” We now know he will never leave the community. He leaves behind his wife Jill, and his two children, Evan and Caitlin. He also leaves a standard of coaching excellence that will serve as a beacon for all Lakota coaches to follow.