Soccer team prepares for new coach, players

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Soccer team prepares for new coach, players

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

For the fall 2017-18 athletic season, the Quaker men’s soccer team will find themselves embarking on new terrain. Not only will over half of the team be composed of new faces due to the graduation of 11 members, but the coaching staff will have taken on a new dynamic as well, one that may prove to be beneficial to all those involved.

In the past, the assistant coaching position had been filled by a former soccer team member. However, this upcoming season, head coach Cory Speed has changed up the game.

“When I initially got down here (Guilford College). I didn’t have anyone in mind for the (assistant coach) position,” said Speed. “I felt that, with a new staff and wanting to put my own stamp on the program, I wanted to hire the best person I could, so we opened the position up to a national search.”

Enters Nick.

Sakiewicz, not to be confused with his father who was a professional soccer goalkeeper and is currently the commissioner for the National Lacrosse team, was born in New Jersey and had deep roots in the game of soccer.

“I played for the New York Red Bulls Academy and at West Chester University in Pennsylvania,” said Sakiewicz.

Upon graduation, he went on to coach men’s soccer at Villanova University. He currently works for Chicago Fire Soccer Club scouting college games, has worked for second division professional club Harrisburg City Islanders in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Union making scouting reports for the head coach and worked in PDL for Redding United, a summer league for high level division I soccer players looking to go into professional leagues.

His passion for coaching came from his positive experiences throughout his childhood with his own coaches. Additionally, he was surrounded by the game even when he was not on the field.

“My dad played professionally,” said Sakiewicz. “My mom had people who played professionally as well. It was just kind of in my family. I definitely had a soccer ball from probably one year of age.”

From Villanova University, Sakiewicz moved on to Johnson & Wales University in Denver where he spent a year and helped coach his team to their conference championship.

Sakiewicz was one out of 8-10 individuals Speed interviewed over the phone.

“We had a really good applicant pool, honestly much better than I could have anticipated that it would have been,” said Speed. “We had a few guys, including Nick, with some Division 1 experience.”

Speed felt that the only way to get the best person for the job was to open the applicant pool to a nationwide search, however, he was not opposed to hiring from within as well.

“At this point of the program, I wanted to get the best candidate we could,” said Speed. “The only way we could do that was if we opened up and expanded it (the search) to give everyone the opportunity to apply.

“If we didn’t have a good applicant pool or that I felt we had a real strong person around the program or someone who wanted to do it we would have gone in that direction.”

What does Sakiewicz plan on bringing to the table?

“Growing up, I was an attacking player,” said Sakiewicz. “From the attacking aspect, I can bring a lot of creativity. As far as teaching very specific details to offensive play with runs off the ball, with your positioning or timing of runs, I’m really good at that kind of stuff.”

A few of the qualities that attracted Speed, a former goalkeeper, to Sakiewicz, a forward, were that, while he possessed shared experiences with Speed, Sakiewicz could also bring some different experiences that help the team.

“My philosophy as a leader is to put people in the right places and allow them to do their jobs,” said Speed. “I see this as more of a collaborative learning and collaborative leadership environment.”

From a coaching standpoint, Speed feels that he and Sakiewicz have an advantage and are better prepared going into the fall season as opposed to his previous season when he, started with the Quakers after the season had already begun.

“My goals over the next four to five years (are to) make the conference tournament every year, (to) make semifinal every other year, (to) have a winning record every year, (are to) make a conference final once every three to four years,” said Speed.

Sakiewicz stands with Speed’s missions.

“My goals are his goals,” said Sakiewicz. “They are all together.”

Training will start the Monday after spring break, four days a week for four weeks. On April 15, the Quakers will play Pfeiffer University at 7:30 p.m. at the Armfield Athletifc Center.

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