Article by: Josh Miller
Photograph by: Medha Srivastava
For the first time in over 12 years, two male coaches are at the helm, steering the ISM girls varsity soccer team to success. Having been appointed to the team, Coaches Mark Cooling and Erik Richardson, otherwise referred to by the girls’ team as Cooling and Richo respectively, aim to break the three-year deadlock of finishing sixth at IASAS.
Richo, who is on his second year of coaching the varsity girls team, brings with him his experience from last year’s IASAS competition. Richo shares that “this year’s team has eleven returning players, which should equate to continuity, carry-over, and cohesion.” Richo further shares that he “detects more camaraderie and team-gelling between players” as well as “overall improved maturity with some team characteristics yet to be fully honed (like our mental game).”
Meanwhile, Coach Cooling, who has been coaching the JV girls team for the past few years, brings in his wealth of footballing knowledge to the team. Despite the move up to varsity and the new challenge, Coach Cooling “feels there are many similarities between the two teams” in that “both teams try to play proper football rather than kick and run” and that “there is high work ethic.”
According to both coaches, some of the short-term goals they established together with the team at the start of the season include playing attractive football, keeping the ball on the ground, playing the way the girls are facing, and moving intelligently off the ball. With regard to the team’s goals on the long run, Cooling states that “We take it day by day in training or in game, and hasn’t really looked at the long term as it loses focus of the present.”
Senior varsity player Mia D. reveals that “the new coaching is definitely different from the old coaching.” According to Mia, this year the coaches are attempting to implement new strategies and tactics to find what works best for the team. Despite these changes, Mia is unfazed as she has observed that “Cooling and Richo have a good dynamic and philosophy, and that the results of their games so far have reflected such positive changes!”
Following the conclusion of the recent Pre-IASAS exchange at ISB, Richo says they are taking a “Buddhist approach in that they hold no expectations,” but at the same time, Cooling believes that they “have a very good team capable of beating anyone.” Having scored 33 goals and accrued 4 shutouts in just 9 games so far this season, things are looking up for the Lady Bearcats with IASAS just a month away!