Soccer season begins Monday in the city with teams across Boston ready to put practice behind them and begin the chase for a city title.
But while half the boys teams in the Boston City League can hardly wait for that first kickoff, the other half are more worried about just trying to start something from scratch.
Seven of the league’s 15 teams have new coaches this season. including Edmar Verela (Boston English,) Tim Meho (Charlestown,) Nathaniel Houghton (South Boston,) Adrian Kawuba (Brighton,) Djon Ramos (Boston International), and Daniel McDonald (West Roxbury.)
And as of last week it was unclear who back-to-back city champion Madison Park's coach will be this season.
The lack of consistency is no doubt hard for the league’s growth, but Boston schools athletic director Ken Still said it’s difficult to keep coaches in one spot for a long time.
“There are a lot of reasons why coaches leave,” Still said. “Some get pregnant and don’t want to coach anymore. Some get advancements in their job and do not have the time anymore. Some move onto other schools, making it hard for them to travel. There’s a variety of reasons.”
East Boston boys’ soccer coach Lorenzo Di Benedetto, who has been coaching for more than 20 years, agrees with Still.
“Most coaches leave because they’re not teaching there anymore,” he said. “If you don’t teach within the school it’s difficult because you don’t know the kids and you don’t have that special bond. Some of the younger coaches have kids and cannot make that 6, 7 o’clock commitment.”
Although players for half the league are just getting used to their coaches, Meho said the new presence isn’t necessarily a negative thing because students can benefit from new coaches with new ideas.
“I think we bring a new perspective to the league and give it a new direction,” Charlestown’s first-year coach said. “Everything has been going great. The kids are great and I’m happy to work with them.”
Kawuba, Brighton’s new coach, brings loads of experience to the table. He has played soccer at a professional level with the Under-23 national team in Uganda as well as the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. He also runs sports camps and clinics with his organization, AK sports group.
“I have a passion for coaching,” he said. “I would love to share my experiences and lessons I’ve learned along the way and pass it on to these guys. They want to play in college too and my experience could help them. Coaching is the best thing I could do.
"I'm a former player myself, I actually played professionally and in college. I would definitely love to share some of my experiences and lessons I’ve learned on the way and pass it on to these guys. I love soccer."
While many of the new coaches are young, with physical abilities that allow them to participate during practices, Still said good coaching transcends age.
“Young, old, there’s no difference,” Still said of the new coaches. “If you can coach, are into the kids and it’s a passion of yours, the new coaches are a good thing.”
Former South Boston coach Andrew Hamilton declined to say why he left, but believes that the new coaches are a good thing if they have intentions to stick around.
“If they are good at coaching and enthusiastic and have good relationships with the kids then it's obviously good,” he said. “That being said, I think a best case scenario would be for there to be good enthusiastic coaches who have a tenure that spans for an extended period of time.”
Di Benedetto agrees that the success of the team is all about consistency.
“In the long run it’s good for [the team] because [the coaches] bring new enthusiasm and new input, but it’s all about consistency,” he said. “If they only stay for one year, it’s not good for the program. If they’re around for two or three years it’s great for the kids and great for the league.”
Meho has no plans to leave after his first year and hopes the same goes for the rest of the coaches
“Hopefully all of the coaches stick around,” he said. “I’m sure that they’re professional enough to be able to.”
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