Sports

Soccer is always a part of John Wedge’s life

‘The Professor’ brings a wealth of knowledge to the BIYSC and BISA.

There was a time when John Wedge wasn’t thinking about soccer.

“I studied accounting for a while in college,” he said with a smile. “But I soon dropped it.”

Many kids and adults are receiving the benefits of his decision.

A program director for the Bainbridge Youth Soccer Club for the past eight years, Wedge also works for the Bainbridge Island Soccer Academy in developing programs for select players and the coach mentoring program, in which senior select players are used as assistant coaches.

Wedge also works for the Washington State Youth Soccer Association as a Director of Coaching Education for the Peninsula Region, where he gives clinics for coaches to receive their United States Soccer Federation licenses.

In addition to those duties, he also works with the island’s Parks and Rec Department in creating camps for specific skillsets in soccer, holds a session at the Zone in Poulsbo for beginning women players that are college age and up and he works with the Top Soccer program that helps disabled kids on the island take part in the game.

And when he hasn’t had his fill of soccer, Wedge plays for a 55 and over team, takes part in a fantasy league and watches as many games as he can on the Fox Soccer Channel.

“I used to think about what I wanted to do when I grew up,” he said. “But now I’ve decided I’m probably too old to do that.”

Phil Avison the director of player development for Bainbridge FC and who works with Wedge in running the summer camps, said they call him “The Professor” because of his extensive knowledge of the game.

“You can see him in his car (a beat up Subaru Outback) any day in the summer” hauling around soccer equipment, said Avison. “Needless to say his car smells horrific.”

But Avison, who shares a “friendly rivalry” with his fellow countrymen – Avison hails from Blackburn, Lancashire – said he always enjoys his time with Wedge.

“We have a lot of fun working alongside each other for the summer camps which we run,” he said “We complement each other well.”

George Vukic, a program director for BISA and the boys soccer coach at Bainbridge High School, thinks of Wedge as “the patriarch of island soccer.”

“He is a walking soccer history book and training database,” Vukic said. “He is also a very warm and optimistic personality that loves a good laugh.”

Wedge’s love of soccer came about in his homeland of England.

Born and raised in Otley, a town inside the city of Leeds in West Yorkshire, Wedge started playing the game at age six.

He continued playing soccer in high school, but when he attended Trinity & All Saints College of the University of Leeds, he chose to play for a local club team instead and take part in rugby.

After graduating from the university with a degree in human movement, Wedge emigrated to Brooklyn with his wife to teach at an inner-city school and coach soccer.

But the fast pace of the city was too much for the two, so they moved to Washington in 1979 and settled in Wallingford.

Wedge got his first coaching job at Shoreline Community College in 1980.

“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “I enjoyed my time there.

He coached through 1984 and was voted the NWACC Coach of the Year in 1982.

Continuing his process of taking several jobs at one time in the coming years, he took the coaching director position at the Washington State Soccer League in 1984 and 1985 before taking a position with the WSYSA to do coaching clinics around the state.

He also coached the men’s and women’s teams of the Valley Cities S.C. a semi-pro soccer team, coached a U21 select team that played at the Olympic Center in Colorado Springs, managed the Tacoma Indoor Soccer Center and led the Tacoma Wings, an independent team, to a national title.

Wedge also coached at Federal Way High School (winning the SPSL coach of the year award in 1992), started the Highline Heat select soccer club and was their first coaching director along with starting his own independent camp in the summer.

He was invited to work at a team camp on Bainbridge but moved to the island when he found a position with BIYSC.

While he won’t say if this is his last stop on a long journey, he’ll always enjoy what he’s doing when it comes to working with kids and showing others how to do it – along with making necessary changes.

“I’ve been reflecting lately that I need to listen to what’s important to them,” he said. “I don’t think you ever stop learning the game or learning how to best teach it.

“I’m constantly looking for better ways to get a message across.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Aug 29 edition online now. Browse the archives.