Larry Stefanek has been hired as the new coach of the Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s soccer team. GREG SAKAKI/THe News Bulletin

New VIU soccer coach takes over national-championship-winning team

Larry Stefanek hired to lead Mariners men’s soccer program

In one way, it’s the good situation for a new coach, in another way, it’s a tough act to follow.

The Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s soccer team, after a season in which they won the national championship on their home field, have announced their next head coach.

Larry Stefanek takes over a program that Bill Merriman helmed for almost a decade.

“Pretty big shoes to try to fill…” Stefanek said. “There’s going to be expectations, but for me, it’s going to be a new era obviously, so we have to build a new culture. Build off of his successes and the program’s successes, but it is going to be a new culture and with it is going to come new players. It’s going to take some time, but we’ll give it a go and see how we do.”

Merriman announced before last season that 2017 would be his last year on the VIU sideline. He and Stefanek are friends, so the new VIU coach was aware of the job opening and envisioned taking on the role.

“I’ve always thought about coaching at the post-secondary level. It’s sort of been a goal of mine for a few years, actually. The opportunity came up and it’s pretty exciting to have this chance,” Stefanek said.

The Mariners were a veteran team last year and so much of the core has graduated. The new coach sees “a number of key players coming back,” though, and also thinks some players within the program are ready to take on expanded responsibilities on the pitch.

A former defender in his playing days, Stefanek knows the importance of that part of the game, but he favours an “attacking-oriented” style of soccer. He said teams that can be unpredictable and use different forms and strategies are best-equipped for success and said that’s one of the reasons why Merriman’s teams won.

“They could play in a variety of ways and score goals in different ways,” he said. “Not just be all-out attacking, but be able to play through the middle of the field and play through the thirds and play possession soccer and keep the ball, but also to be able to play a little more direct.”

Stefanek is associate head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Upper Island Academy and technical director for the Upper Island Storm and Oceanside Youth Soccer.

Stephanie White, VIU’s director of high-performance sports, recreation and physical literacy, said in a press release that Stefanek shares the values of VIU athletics and has strong connections in the soccer community on the Island and across B.C.

“I believe Larry’s commitment to developing student-athletes on the pitch and off the pitch, along with his technical knowledge, will continue to foster a culture of excellence within our men’s soccer program,” she said.



sports@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

District of Lantzville spent nearly $90K on legal fees last year

Legal expenses up more than $40,000 over last year

MULTIMEDIA: All that glitters at Nanaimo Gem and Mineral Show

Second-annual event offers stones, crystals and handmade jewelry

UPDATE: Discontent City campers don’t plan on leaving

City of Nanaimo issues trespass notice at downtown homeless camp

RDN and CUPE 401 ratify three-year deal

Collective agreement retroactive to Jan. 1 and runs until the end of December 2020

Trans Mountain pipeline: Is it worth the risk?

Concerns range from the threat of an oil spill to the impact of tanker traffic on wildlife

City showcases power of public works to Nanaimo students

City of Nanaimo holds second Public Works Day

VIDEO: Regional district and B.C. Transit show off NextRide bus technology

New technology for Nanaimo bus riders will allow for real-time tracking

Federal leaders trade barbs about India trip at press gallery dinner

Justin Trudeau’s infamous trip to India earlier this year was the focus of many of the jabs

B.C. VIEWS: Our poverty reduction plan is already in place

NDP has another promise it needs to appear to keep

WestJet pilot strike averted as parties agree to mediation

Pilots had warned they could go on strike starting May 19

Out of control wildfire prompts restriction around Allie Lake

One of the first large wildfires of the 2018 season is blazing out of control

Most Read