After three years as boys' assistant, Bryan Edwards heads up girls' squad

Photo Credit: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandy coach Bryan Edwards introduces himself to his team during soccer camp last week. When the Sandy girls’ soccer program was faced with the challenge of filling its head coaching slot this offseason, the Pioneers had a familiar face pegged as a possible candidate. Sandy had its eye on Bryan Edwards, who assisted the boys’ team for three seasons, and felt he was a natural fit to take over the girls’ squad. It really just came down whether or not Edwards wanted to do it. After some careful assessment, he eagerly accepted the job.

“I was a little hesitant at first,” Edwards said. “You are a volunteer when you are an assistant, so you can kind of show up when you want and you don’t have some of the other stuff to worry about. This is a big step, but the timing is right for me and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Edwards brings a lifetime of soccer experience to the table in his new role. He played at Barlow High in the 1980s and has played ever since. He had a brief assistant-coaching gig at Barlow shortly after he graduated. Edwards has coached regularly at some level without much interruption. A highlight of his coaching career came when he coached a women’s club team in the World Master Games in Italy.

Edwards takes over a Sandy club in full rebuilding mode. Sandy graduated seven seniors from the 2013 team and only had three juniors returning. Two of those now-seniors are already out of the picture. Senior Mary Horton was forced to undergo season-ending foot surgery. When fellow senior Lexie Moss had her pre-season physical, an abnormality in her heart was discovered and she has not been cleared to play. That leaves the Pioneers with a lone senior.

The team does have a strong junior class and the staff is excited about the incoming freshmen class. This season looks to be one of learning for the young group, but the Pioneers could still be competitive.

“Our biggest goal for the season is to lay a foundation for what we want the program to be,” Edwards said. “After this year, we will be past the rebuilding phase and we will be moving forward. At the same time, a major goal we have is to help the girls learn soccer and hopefully a few life lessons. And it is important for them to enjoy it.”

Edwards has already made the game fun for the team. Last Tuesday, Edwards arranged for Portland Timbers backup goalkeeper Andrew Weber to be at practice working with the Pioneer keepers. The experience was one the players will remember and draw from for some time.

“Any time you can have a player of that caliber helping you, you are going to listen and take in as much as you can,” Edwards said. “He definitely was able to teach them how to improve their technique, but he also brought in a work ethic that I think stood out to them. He is at the level they want to get to, so it was great to have him there.”

Edwards and the Pioneers plan to have Weber back later in the season. In the mean time, Sandy has organized a meet-and-greet with two Timbers players on the evening of August 28. The Sandy coaching staff feels that rubbing shoulders with the professionals can only help the team this season.

The Pioneers open the 2014 campaign on September 4 at Centennial. They went 4-10 last year and finished sixth in the Northwest Oregon Conference.

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