Ben Rusch was offered and has accepted the girls head soccer coach position.
“My goal, and it may be a little high, is to win the conference,” Rusch said. “I’m just excited to see how far we can go.”
Rusch, 23, also said the base goal is to win half of the season’s games and be an enjoyable team to watch.
“Now I get to see if I can develop them into basically an exciting team to watch,” Rusch said.
The application has been submitted to the South Whidbey School Board and is awaiting approval.
Rusch spent the past three years as an assistant boys soccer coach under Joel Gerlach. He was hired this year as the junior varsity coach and will remain the boys JV coach.
The former Falcon said his experience as an active soccer player and JV coach will help him with the varsity girls team. His duty as the
JV boys coach was to develop players for the varsity boys team. At the helm of an entire program, the roles are different.
Gerlach said Rusch’s youth should serve to benefit the program, like it benefited his boys soccer teams.
“One of the best things he’s got going for him is he’s got a lot of energy,” Gerlach said. “And that’s what that program needs.”
Gerlach declared Rusch’s hire a “new era” for South Whidbey girls soccer.
“I think his expectations are to build a program,” Gerlach said of Rusch. “He’s going to try to start a program the way he wants it.”
Paul Arand resigned as the girls soccer head coach in May, after 12 years running the program. Arand and the Falcon girls soccer team had a combined record of 7-20 the past two seasons in 2009 and 2010.
One player, Falcon junior Makenzie Peterson, said Arand was not to blame for the team’s lack of success.
“I wouldn’t say any of the poor seasons in the past are a result of Paul’s coaching,” Peterson said.
Rusch has jumped in feet first to his new role. He created a Web page to organize pick-up soccer games, and his plan is to keep the girls sharp on their soccer cleats to avoid any summer lag come practice and tryouts in August.
“I think that he’s going to be something new,” Peterson said. “I think he’s going to bring a good intensity. And he’s a good soccer player and he’ll be able to show us how to do it [run plays].”
His playing experience will help him coach formations and drills, Gerlach said.
“He’s just natural at what he does,” Gerlach said. “He loves the game. And not only does he coach but he actively plays. You get firsthand experience because you know how it feels.”
Rusch played for the Edmonds Community College men’s soccer team for a year. He was accepted into the Starfire Sports Premier Soccer League, which Rusch said is comprised of former professionals and NCAA Division I and D-II soccer players.
“I’m excited to bring it back to the island and see how good I can get this program,” Rusch said.
Rusch has trained with Sebastien Le Toux of the Seattle Sounders FC. From that experience he learned a different way — what he called a European way — of viewing soccer.
“As long as you’re focusing on one or two small things you’re effective on the field,” Rusch said.
Gerlach’s wife, Jane Gerlach, was hired as the assistant girls soccer coach. She has previously coached the JV girls soccer team.
For now, Rusch said he will coordinate with his key players to keep the team organized during summer.
As of Aug. 1, Rusch cannot contact his players until the WIAA authorized first practice on Aug. 22.