Evan Thompson / The Record South Whidbey girls soccer coach Brian McCleary has resigned after two seasons. He is the second coach to do so in a week, following football coach Michael Coe’s recent resignation.

McCleary resigns as South Whidbey girls soccer head coach

After two seasons at the helm, South Whidbey girls soccer head coach Brian McCleary has resigned.

He is the second head coach to step down in two weeks, following head football coach Michael Coe, who hung up his whistle on Nov. 25.

The Falcons went 4-25 overall in McCleary’s two seasons. McCleary took the program over from former coach Ben Rusch in 2015. It was his first head coaching job at the high school level.

“All told, it really had mostly to do with the lack of time I had to commit to the program that it really needed,” McCleary said.

Responsibilities such as staying up on player eligibility, scheduling and practice plans bogged him down too much, McCleary said. He also pointed toward “unfortunate” parent interactions as a contributing factor to him stepping down. He said some parents were upset their kids were not playing enough and that there was a perceived lack of support for the junior varsity team, which had no subs throughout the season.

The varsity squad wasn’t much better off; they had only two or three subs, he said.

“They didn’t understand that varsity is the priority,” McCleary said. “…It’s not like we had 10 subs sitting on the sideline.”

Coe battled similar circumstances prior to his resignation, though far more extreme, when a group of parents banded together and advocated for his firing or resignation. McCleary said parents were supportive during his first year, but things changed during the fall of 2016.

“Some parents have this idea about their children and where they think they belong in the world,” McCleary said. “They’re not shy about letting coaches know that.”

“It’s unfortunate. It really is,” he added.

Athletic Director Paul Lagerstedt said he was aware that parents were dissatisfied or had issues, but that it wasn’t beyond what is “fairly normal” for a first-time head coach.

“On any given year, and on most sports, we’re going to deal with some parent frustration,” Lagerstedt said. “That’s not unusual and especially for first-year head coaches or first-time coaches. That’s something we try to coach them through.”

McCleary thought he helped set a standard of expectation amongst players. Part of that came as a result of making accountability a requirement. Being accountable for oneself and the amount of effort given were among his major focal points.

“He’ll be missed,” junior Mikayla Hezel said. “He really brought our team together, that’s for sure, especially because we were all so young.”

Assistant coach Ernie Merino thought McCleary was able to keep a Falcon program that has struggled in the past afloat..

“His biggest concern was, ‘What can I do to keep it alive and heading in the right direction?’” Merino said. “I really think he was able to do that.”

“I’m impressed with how much he was able to do in the past few years. I was grateful he brought me along. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be coaching,” he added.

Merino, who has coached the boys and girls junior varsity teams the past two years and premier and select teams over the past half-decade, plans to apply for the position once it is posted on the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association website.

“I loved coaching with Coach McCleary,” Merino said. “It was fun and enjoyable. I really enjoyed coaching the girls; they’re a great group.”

More in Sports

Future of SW basketball on display at camp

The hall leading to the South Whidbey High School gymnasium is adorned… Continue reading

Heggenes, Pope receive Cliff Gillies Award

Seniors Kolby Heggenes and Lewis Pope were the recipients of this year’s… Continue reading

South Whidbey grads find success at collegiate level / Alumni update

A handful of South Whidbey High School graduates are continuing their athletic… Continue reading

South Whidbey athletes receive letters, awards

South Whidbey High School wrapped up the 2018 spring sports season by… Continue reading

Cascade Conference honors South Whidbey players, coaches

Twenty-one South Whidbey High School spring athletes earned all-Cascade Conference first-team honors… Continue reading

Falcons comment on state experience / Tennis

Mental and physical growth helped South Whidbey junior Mary Zisette and sophomore… Continue reading

Falcons take early exit at state / Softball

The South Whidbey High School softball team dropped both its games at… Continue reading

Papritz, Zisette place 2nd in state doubles tournament / Tennis

South Whidbey High School’s Alison Papritz and Mary Zisette swatted their way… Continue reading

Nielsen paces SW at state with 4 medals / Track

South Whidbey’s Sophia Nielsen led the Falcons at the state 1A track… Continue reading

SW grads qualify for national tournament / Ultimate frisbee

Two South Whidbey High School graduates have tossed their way to the… Continue reading

Heggenes 3rd, Falcons 4th at state tournament / Girls golf

Kolby Heggenes placed third and South Whidbey High School fourth at the… Continue reading

South Whidbey finishes 9th at state / Boys golf

The South Whidbey High School boys golf team placed ninth at the… Continue reading