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Bainbridge Spartans boys soccer season kicks into high gear | SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW
More than 50 students turned out to try to earn a spot on the Bainbridge High School boys soccer teams this year.
Of those, only about 36 found themselves chosen to be on the roster of either the varsity or JV teams for the upcoming spring season.
For Spartan Head Coach Ian McCallum, entering his first season as the high school coach but having long been involved with the Bainbridge Island Football Club, the team’s roster was a roll call of familiar names.
“I think that the nice part is that I know all these players,” McCallum said of his spring lineup. “All of these players have at some point worked with our club, and played in our club. Not all of them do now, but the majority of them do.”
Considering the differences between leading the varsity team and coaching for the club, McCallum said that the biggest change for him is in the ultimate goal.
“[In the club] the emphasis is on player development and team development,” he explained. “And with high school soccer there is a desire to continue that, but the emphasis on wins and state championships is, not a [top] priority, but it’s up there.”
McCallum’s first experience with the high school team began far from the leadership role he now holds.
“A year back I’d tried to help, I was an assistant,” he said. “But my schedule was just too crazy then. When [the previous coach] said he was stepping away, it definitely kind of took my interest. Now my schedule is a little more settled and I know the soccer landscape here, so that helps.”
Having worked so extensively within the island soccer culture, McCallum is perhaps better qualified than most to judge the current state of the sport.
“I think it’s exceptionally good,” he said. “There’s a lot of good players. Bainbridge is a soccer island. I grew up on an island, and the community here really embraces soccer.
“I look at our younger players, [we have] really good younger players, but we have an exceptional group of seniors here as well. We just want that trend to continue.”
Assisting McCallum in his first season as coach are BHS senior co-captains William Economy and Ben Freedman, chosen for the position through a vote by the team.
“[I think] this year’s going to be pretty exciting,” said Freedman. “It’s a very different team [than last year]. We’ve got lots of good younger guys.”
The team may seem more junior than last year’s squad, but McCallum said that the Bainbridge boys were bringing plenty of experience to the field this season.
“I think it was maybe nine seniors or 10 seniors last year,” he said. “We have eight seniors this year, seven juniors and the rest are sophomores.”
Discussing his personal coaching style, McCallum said that he favors demonstrations throughout practice and insists on being very involved with all of the players.
“I like to know what’s going on in the players’ heads,” he explained. “I really want us playing a certain way, and if I know what’s going on in their heads — that communication piece is easy.”
“I think we’re looking for all our seniors to be leaders,” McCallum added. “Everyone on the team should be a leader, but I like to have a couple of captains and their peers voted them in. Everyone needs to be a leader. We’re a quiet team, we need to start talking.”
The communication aspect of the game has proven an especially tough angle to square for the Spartan squad.
“I think that the skill level and the speed of these players is very good,” McCallum said. “They all play for a number of different clubs and played under a number of different coaches, and we’ve got to start talking and just get on the same page. We’re still getting there, but it’s going to be a big challenge.”
Co-captain Freedman, who has played on the team the past three years, said that he and the rest of the team were enjoying working with their new coach.
“Change is good,” Freedman said. “He definitely knows what he’s doing and what we’re capable of.”
The varsity lineup includes, in addition to the captains, Peter Fawely, Keats Hoonan, Campbell Queen, Jared Russell, Tanner Salmon, Martin van Drunen, Dylan Curran, Finn Delphinidea, Sam Maracich, Wesley Houser, Glodi Kingombe, Gerrit Mahling, Ari Pitsaky, Russ Amelang, Anton Easterbrook, Devon Reynolds and Jacob Sokol.
McCallum said that it was too early in the season to pick any top contending teams, and that the team was preparing to play their best regardless of their opponent.
“My eyes are wide open right now,” he said. “We’re going to play a number of 4A schools in non-conference games, and we’ll take it one game at a time. I think you’ve just got to be able to pull it out, work hard and continue to compete and find that inspiration to win those tough games.”
The Spartans will play their first regular season match at 6 p.m. Friday, March 21 at home against Roosevelt High.