Vyas leaves lasting legacy on parish soccer

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Anant Vyas led Dutchtown to 19 playoff appearances, seven trips to the quarterfinals and two trips to the semifinals.

When the Dutchtown girl’s soccer team returns to the field next season, its sideline will look drastically different.

For the first time in the program’s history, Anant Vyas won’t be there.

Dutchtown will have a new girl’s soccer head coach in 2022. The school recently parted ways with Vyas, after he led the program for the past 19 seasons.

Vyas was the team’s first-ever head coach. He built the program from scratch and kept building until it was a perennial playoff contender.

Over the years, he hasn’t only proven to be a great leader at Dutchtown; he’s established himself as one of the best soccer coaches the parish has ever seen.

But being such a highly-successful coach wasn’t something Vyas sought early on.

The Uganda, Africa native was a late bloomer when it came to coaching. Vyas was busy maintaining a career as an engineer at the BASF Geismar site’s Ethylene Oxide/Surfactants Plant for more than two decades.

But in 1987, Vyas decided to volunteer as an assistant coach for his 6-year-old son, Rishi’s Baton Rouge soccer team.

The rest is history.

As Vyas continued coaching his son’s team through the years, he realized just how many other Ascension Parish athletes were having to travel to Baton Rouge each game. This led to him urging the Baton Rouge Soccer Association to begin scheduling games in the parish.

He later took matters into his own hands.

In 1991, Vyas established and chartered the Ascension Area Soccer Association and became the organization’s first president. They registered more than 400 players in the first year.

The organization was able to eventually secure more fields, with the help of the City of Gonzales and the Ascension Parish Recreation Department.

Vyas coached boy’s teams in the parish until 1995.

Then his daughter, Asha began playing, so he started a premier girl’s soccer team in Baton Rouge called Genesis Soccer Club. Prior to this, premier soccer in Baton Rouge focused primarily on boy’s soccer.

Vyas coached the Genesis squad to a state title in 1998 and state runner-up finishes in both 2000 and 2001.

Meanwhile, in 1999, he officially began his high-school head coaching career as he took over at East Ascension.

He coached the Lady Spartans for three seasons and instantly made them contenders. They were district runners-up in two of the three years, and they reached the state semifinals in 2002.

After that season, he made the move to Dutchtown and became the program’s first head coach.

Vyas led the Lady Griffins to the Division-II state quarterfinals in his first three years as a head coach there.

Dutchtown moved up to Division I in 2006, and they made the state semifinals the very next season.

In all, Vyas led the Lady Griffins to an exceptional 19 straight trips to the playoffs. They reached the state quarterfinals seven times, and they reached the semifinals twice.

The Lady Griffins had back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2017 and 2018, and to the program has finished with single-digit losses for the past seven years.

In his final season with the Lady Griffins, they went 17-4-1, won a district championship and reached the second round of the playoffs.           

Vyas was named both the District 5 and Ascension Parish Coach of the Year.

He bolsters a superb career record of 350-63-37.

But there were always so many more things to soccer than wins and losses to Vyas. In explaining what he enjoys most about coaching his players, he once said, “They learn a lot about life and how you can compromise and make things happen.”