Boys Soccer

Chad Zmolek tabbed for IAHSSCA Hall of Fame

Posted January 13, 2023

Longtime boys soccer head coach Chad Zmolek has been named to the Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association (IAHSSCA) Hall of Fame as a member of its 2023 induction class.

Zmolek led the Little Cyclone boys program for 21 seasons beginning with the 1999 campaign. Accumulating 266 of the program’s 386 all-time wins, Zmolek stepped away after the conclusion of the 2019 season with a 266-97-4 career head coaching record. The Little Cyclones qualified for the state tournament eight times under Zmolek. Those eight qualifications is ninth all-time among the IHSAA’s coaching ranks.

Known for developing strong and confident athletes, Zmolek owns virtually every boys soccer coaching record in program history, recording 10 or more wins in 18 of 21 seasons and never finished season below .500. Another remarkable feat is that Zmolek-led teams were 7-0 all-time in postseason penalty shootouts, most recently a victory in the 2017 IHSAA State Quarterfinals over No. 3 Iowa City High.

Zmolek’s best postseason finish came in the 2009 campaign. After dropping a pair of early season weekend tournament games to highly-ranked Pleasant Valley and Norwalk; the Little Cyclones rattled off wins in 14 of the next 16 games to reach the state championship game, where they fell 3-2 to Iowa City West. Ames had edged Ankeny via a late game-winning goal by future Ames head coach Ryan McGowan.

“We were never the most skilled team, but Z (Zmolek) had a way of getting players to be united and together — building a hardworking culture in Ames High soccer,” said former player and current head boys soccer coach Ryan McGowan. “With the way Z ran the program, you could always defy the odds on any given night when you would face potentially more skilled or higher ranked teams.”

During Zmolek’s tenure, the Little Cyclones defeated a total of 70 ranked opponents. In April 2002, Zmolek’s squad defeated the top-ranked team in both Iowa and Nebraska in one weekend. The Little Cyclones took down (No. 1 Iowa/No. 17 national) West Des Moines Valley, 3-2 before topping Omaha’s Millard West (No. 25 nationally), 2-0. The series of wins would vault the Little Cyclones to their own top state ranking and No. 23 national ranking by the NSCAA, the highest of Zmolek’s tenure.

Following Zmolek’s retirement from soccer coaching in 2019, McGowan took over the Little Cyclone program after serving as an assistant for the prior eight seasons. McGowan still looks to Zmolek as mentor in coaching.

“Z has become much more of a friend and coaching mentor now,” said McGowan. “He’s someone I can talk to about strategy or what to do in certain situations – someone I can trust. He’s impacted a ton a people, always pushing them to maximize their potential.”

“I’m honored and grateful for all the athletes, coaches, athletic directors, and families who supported, modeled, and inspired me throughout my coaching career,” said Zmolek.

The IAHSSCA will honor Zmolek and the other 2023 inductee in Linn-Mar’s Corey Brinkmeyer at its 2023 Symposium on February 25th in West Des Moines.


SeasonRecordState Finish
200015-3-0State Fourth Place
200112-5-1State Quarterfinal
200513-4-2State Fourth Place
200917-5-0State Runner-up
201218-4-1State Fourth Place
201413-5-0State Quarterfinal
201617-4-0State Third Place
201715-5-0State Fourth Place