WEST FARGO — Each title run was unique, but there was always one constant through West Fargo’s multiple boys soccer state championships — James Moe.
Moe was on the sidelines for all four of the boys soccer team’s state titles. The Packers won their last three with Moe at the helm, and the program’s first with him as an assistant in 2010.
Moe has been a mainstay for both boys and girls teams. After 15 years as an assistant and head coach, he says it’s time for someone else to make their mark.
Moe, who worked for West Fargo Public Schools as a teacher and administrator for 13 years, is leaving his longtime coaching positions and the district. He accepted a position with Fargo Public Schools and will be the dean of students for Lewis and Clark Elementary School, starting July 1.
For the first time in almost a decade, there’ll be a new face at the helm of the Packers boys soccer team.
“It just felt like the right move. I applied for that position, and when they offered it to me, I did a lot of talking with my family and my wife," Moe said. "It felt like a good opportunity. Mr. Cresap, the principal there at Lewis and Clark, has a great reputation.
“Being in West Fargo for so long as a coach and then as an employee as well, I had a lot of opportunities there, but this one was kind of the next step moving up professionally, as far as working in the school system.”
Moe was most recently the dean of students at Osgood Elementary School. He compiled a career head coaching record of 100 wins, 34 losses and 23 ties with three state championships (2014, 2016, 2018) in eight seasons with the boys program.
Moe, who has been involved with the boys program for 15 years as an assistant and head coach, leaves the program a two-time Eastern Dakota Conference and North Dakota boys soccer coach of the year. The Packers went 12-4-1 and grabbed a third-place state finish last fall in what would be Moe’s final state tournament appearance.
Moe took over as head coach of the girls program in 2011, after serving as an assistant for five years. His career record at the helm of the girls team was 36 wins, 30 losses and 13 ties with one state tournament appearance. Moe stepped down from the role after the 2016 season, but stayed on as an assistant.
“It’s time for somebody else to come in and influence the game, influence the program, in their own way,” Moe said. “I told the captains they can call me for anything, whether it’s a letter of recommendation for a job or if they just have questions about life — and that goes for all the players.”
Moe went from the state girls soccer tournament, held June 3-5 in Grand Forks, to a family vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He knew the news would hit before he’d have time to talk to the entire team, which he wants to do in-person. FPS announced the hiring in a press release Wednesday, June 9.
“I do want to have that conversation face-to-face with them and say, ‘Thank you for allowing me to be your coach,’” Moe said.
Moe’s legacy won’t be easily replaced.
“The impact Coach Moe has left at WFHS will be etched in our soccer history archives,” said West Fargo activities director Jay DeCann. “...The impact James has made with our students and being able to create a culture that revolves around the love of soccer.
“Many years the athletes on the team spoke 7-8 different languages and (had) many cultural differences, and they always found a way to become a team.”
Leaving was both a personal and professional decision for Moe, who has two young children. Moe, who has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Minnesota State Moorhead, told his players if there was ever an opportunity for him to move up in a position with more opportunity for leadership within the school system, that he’d look at it.
There were a few opportunities he applied for this year. He turned one down in Grand Forks before accepting the role in Fargo.
“Financially, it made sense. For the opportunity to support my family better,” Moe said. “But also, there’s a bigger time commitment, I believe. Coaching for so long, I’ve missed some time with my kids and my wife, and we’ve talked about that a lot; that come coaching season, you’re just in full bore to see those kids find that success.”
“We are very excited for Coach Moe as he closes one chapter and starts another,” DeCann said.
Moe has no doubt it’s the right move, but without hesitation, said he’ll “absolutely” miss his coaching duties.
Moe will never forget hoisting the championship plaques with his players, but when he looks back on his decade-plus with the programs, it’s what got them to that moment that sticks out.
“It’s the time with the kids and with the coaching staff and the parents that you miss the most," he said.
The head boys coaching position was posted just under two weeks ago. DeCann said the department hopes to move quickly with the hire, as boys soccer is slated to start practicing Aug. 2.