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Byron's Bahr hasn't lost his mind; he just has a passion for soccer

Dave Bahr has spent the last 22 years as a high school soccer head coach, first at Mayo, then Kasson-Mantorville and now at Byron. The 69-year-old can't get enough.

Byron Boys Soccer Coach Dave Bahr
Byron boys soccer coach Dave Bahr talks with his team at the start of practice Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Byron.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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BYRON — Dave Bahr is pretty sure that his wife thinks he’s "insane."

The 22-year high school soccer coach says that with a smile. He does that because he knows that his wife of 48 years, Mo Bahr, is also smiling, endearingly.

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The endless hours that Dave puts into soccer and directing these teams is either “admirable,” or “insane,” depending on perspective. All the winning that the 69-year-old's teams have done at the varsity level is also an attention getter. Between his combined stops as the Mayo girls coach, the Kasson-Mantorville boys coach and now the fifth-year boys coach at Byron, Bahr has a cumulative record of 202 wins, 133 losses and 29 ties.

All of that winning hasn’t just happened. It’s taken time. Lots and lots of Bahr’s time.

He has spent close to 1,000 hours pursuing a variety of soccer coaching licenses and listening to speakers about soccer coaching. He once followed a coach from Holland who was doing soccer lectures in the United States. It was a four-day endeavor for the instructor, going from San Diego to Denver to St. Louis and then to Charleston, S.C.

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It also turned into a four-day endeavor for Bahr, who followed him to each stop and just kept listening.

It’s been a lot, becoming soccer-educated and coaching. But Bahr isn’t complaining. This is the ride he’s put himself on and he’s cherished it.

Driven coach

His wife isn’t complaining, either. At least not much.

“My wife has been really good about it; really supportive,” Bahr said. “But if you asked her, she’d likely say I’m insane (with all of his time spent on soccer). And I probably am. But this is my passion, to be the best coach that I can be for my players.”

Byron Boys Soccer Coach Dave Bahr
Byron boys soccer coach Dave Bahr blocks a shot by Liam Schick as part of a drill during a practice Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Byron.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Then he gave an example. This past Monday, Bahr’s Byron team traveled to play Cristo Rey Jesuit, a non-conference foe from Minneapolis that Bahr’s team had never seen.

Bahr had seen them, though. He made sure of that, climbing out of bed at 2:30 Monday morning to track down internet game film of the Pumas. His wife didn’t even flinch. She’s seen this plenty over the years from Dave and fully expected that he wouldn’t return to bed.

She was right. He stayed with the film-watching for 3 hours, then headed off to work at Hiller Carpet where he’s the longtime owner.

“I was able to break down the film and break down the Cristo Rey players, so our players would know what to expect,” said the soft-spoken Bahr. “I do that pretty much every day, spending a couple of hours watching game films of future and past opponents, figuring out what our practice sessions should be and what we need to do better.”

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All of that attention to detail worked nicely Monday night. Byron emerged a 5-2 winner, lifting the team to 4-4-1 overall in what has so far been an aberration for a Bahr-coached team, sitting at .500.

“This year has been a little bit more challenging than I’d hoped,” said Bahr, whose Bears finished 12-6-1 last year and reached the state tournament for the first time, which was also a first for Bahr as a head coach.

It would be a mistake to believe that Byron, which has finished first in the Hiawatha Valley League two of the past three years, will finish at .500 or worse this season. The Bears have won three of their past five games and this is what Bahr does. He gets things figured out for his teams. It’s his specialty and his passion.

His players — past and present — are well aware that Bahr’s scheming doesn’t just happen. And they’ve been forever grateful for all he’s given them.

Byron Boys Soccer Coach Dave Bahr
Byron boys soccer coach Dave Bahr looks on during a practice Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Byron.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

“I never knew exactly all the time he put into it,” said Nick Pathoulas, a 2015 K-M graduate and former KoMets star under Bahr. “But when he came to practices, he always was so prepared about the other team. He loved it. You could always tell that just by the way he described what we needed to do. He enjoyed the progress we made as a team the entire season.”

Ryan Boyken is a senior on this year’s Byron team. A starter since his freshman year, the outside back/center back isn’t sure if Bahr is “insane” or not with his soccer devotion. But he knows this: he’s incredibly grateful for it.

“He is always telling us what we can be doing differently, whether we are watching film together or he’s sending us emails about the film he’s watching,” Boyken said. “It is very valuable to know what the other team is doing and how we can counter it. But I’ve always known that he loves it. It’s his passion; he’s been doing this for (22) years. That he’s put this much time into it both seems crazy and cool. But it has been so fun to work with him, someone who gives so much.”

Byron Boys Soccer Coach Dave Bahr
Byron boys soccer coach Dave Bahr talks with his team at the start of practice Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Byron.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Byron Boys Soccer Coach Dave Bahr
Byron boys soccer coach Dave Bahr looks on during a practice Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Byron.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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