Khoa Nguyen ‘22 News Reporter
As soon as Coach Stensland announced that he would be leaving the Blue Storm at the end of the last school year, the athletics department began its tireless search for a new varsity boys soccer head coach. In the midst of the pandemic, finding suitable options was far from easy. The athletics department used a number of approaches to finding the best candidate, including “the US Soccer Coaches website, Carney-Sandoe recruiters, NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools), and our ‘company’ LinkedIn job posting access.” Early candidates wrestled with the decision but ultimately turned down the position considering the unknown future of the pandemic.
Throughout the uncertainty, however, the remaining coaches and team members kept in close contact with each other. Coach José Nunez, the assistant coach, reached out to soccer players over the summer about workouts and skill maintenance. He continued to cultivate the team relationship founded on strong communication and trust, evolved and passed through seasons of the program.
After the long process of finding the best fit for the program, the Athletics department connected with Peter Kallin. A Virginia native, Coach Kallin served as director of recreation and partnerships for the Alexandria Soccer Association. Kallin possesses extensive knowledge in soccer, demonstrated through many of his accreditations, including the United States Soccer Federation “B” License, an Advanced National Diploma, and a Level 1 Goalkeeping Diploma from United Soccer Coaches. But what makes him the perfect fit for the school’s soccer program is his professionalism and passion.
“I had entered into the season coaching over the summertime with restrictions, but when we started the Mercersburg season, it was definitely different,” said Kallin. “Now that we can train with contact, we have moved into the curriculum, and the sessions have been wonderful.” Kallin praises the school for taking a cautious approach to transitioning students onto campus. While following social distancing guidelines, the team can maximize their efforts in “fitness, individual skills, and tactical passing patterns.” Kallin believes that the program has a great culture, saying, “We have a wonderful group of coaches and players who are working hard to make sure everyone has a positive experience.”
The players, too, are feeling optimistic about the season despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Team co-captain Foday Bangura ‘22 said, “We have to keep energy high and intensity higher. Setting the tone of each session and encouraging others to improve every day is the only way things will get done.” Co-captain Andrew Forrester ‘21 said, “I lead by example and work hard everyday.”
The coaches and players display a good work ethic, attitude, and passion for the game despite hardships brought by the pandemic. Although they will not get the chance to compete in matches, all members of the program continue to strive for a meaningful experience this season.