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Panthers join forces in S.C.

The uniforms had an orange color scheme and the soccer team was playing for a state championship, so Kevin Czar and Kristin Ryer felt right at home.

But this scene wasn't seven or eight years ago at their alma mater, Parkview. It was less than three weeks ago in Columbia, S.C.

Czar and Ryer, classmates from as far back as middle school, have drawn on their experiences at Parkview and have translated that into success as coaches at Mauldin (S.C.) High School the past two years. The duo led Mauldin girls soccer to the upper state championship this season and a state runner-up finish in Class AAAA.

The promising young coaches, despite both having graduating from Parkview in 2001 and played at Presbyterian College, needed a chance conversation at Presbyterian's homecoming game for Czar to hire Ryer, who mentioned she lived in the area and would be willing to help out.

Two weeks later, Czar had a new assistant coach for the 2007 season.

"It just kind of happened to come up," said Czar, who just finished his third year as head coach. "It really just fell into place."

They make a good team - Czar a former goalkeeper, the bad cop, and Ryer a former midfielder, the good cop.

"I don't think I'd make a good head coach," said Ryer, a special education teacher at Crestview Elementary in Greer, S.C. "(Kevin's) got that sternness. When he raises his voice, they know to listen. I told the girls I'm the softer side of the coaching staff. We make a good balance because he's the discipline. But if the girls have a problem, they are high school girls, they need a friend."

Czar, who also coaches football and teaches social studies at Mauldin, won state titles as a freshman and senior at Parkview. Ryer won state as a sophomore. So they've seen a powerhouse.

That's their goal in Mauldin, a suburb of Greenville. They hosted Parkview (and lost) this season, but they have a trip to Lilburn scheduled for next spring to show their players a big-time soccer program.

"I can't wait," Ryer said. "I'm so excited we're going down there. Parkview has such great facilities. ... We want them to see what a championship program is like and just to see where we grew up."

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.