New WolfPack soccer coach looks to build culture and identity

By Earl Seitz
February 13, 2019 - 4:09pm Updated: February 13, 2019 - 6:08pm

KAMLOOPS — WolfPack women's soccer hired a new head coach this week.

Mark Pennington will be the teams third head coach in six seasons when the Canada West 2019 campaign begins next fall.

Pennington comes from a competitive, winning atmosphere in his five seasons as an assistant coach in Canada West.

Two years at Trinity Western, a Canada West championship and two silver medals at CIS nationals.
The last three years with UBC --- another Canada West gold medal and silver at the Canadian championship.
At TRU he takes over a program that has struggled to compete with the big girls in five years in Canada West.

"The biggest attraction for me," says Pennington, "is the potential that this program has."

If there is potential, it's so far been mostly untapped.    So what's it going to take to turn on the tap?

"I think initially we need to create a culture and a team identity." says the new coach.  "And the team identity needs to be a by product of the coach and the players."

The search was an extensive one.   60 candidates initially.     That was trimmed to a top twenty and eventually to a shortlist of three ---- each brought in for a training session with the team.    An opportunity for the selection committee to see how each candidate can interact with players on the field.   A student athlete is a part of the selection committee in the process of hiring a new coach.    For this job that student athlete was fifth year defender Natalie Verdiel.

 'He really wanted to work with us as individuals." says Verdiel.   "He had plans laid out.   He was so organized.    He knew us, he know our recruits, and he talked about what we could work on going forward and what we need to work on right now.  He was just really organized and had it all mapped out and I think that is what made him so exciting."

As far as the tactical approach that Pennington wants to take, he's a self proclaimed video freak ----- has gone through the game tapes of pretty much every WolfPack game last season.    Pennington says as a player he was an attacking player and loves fast forward, attacking football ---- but at the same time he has seen issues here in defending.

"They conceded 32 goals last season, and have a reputation for leaking goals.   So I think defensively there's definitely some work to do."

Building the program into a contender starts from the ground up.    Recruiting will be a key part of it moving forward in getting the WolfPack program to where the university and Pennington want it to be.   He feels that's where he has a good network following his years at Trinity Western and UBC and with other youth programs at the coast.

"The relationship with the coach and the reputation of the program." says Pennington.   "I hope I can affect that.   I have a good recruiting network I believe.   So I have relationships with players I have worked with in the past.   And then hopefully start to generate a program that it becomes a destination. (for players)

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