WOMEN’S SOCCER PREPARES TO DOMINATE
SCC’s new women’s soccer coach brings a certain air of confidence about him.
The air is eternally thick with the scent of evergreens and Starbucks around Shaun Warner. Warner loves Seattle sports, and he’s a huge supporter of the Sounders and the Seahawks. In fact, he attended both Seahawk Super Bowls in the last decade.
Seattle through-and-through, he is young, vibrant and ready to make waves in the NWAC.
Hired back in November, Warner described the day of his interview for the position: “I called my wife after the interview and said, ‘I bet they (will) call me by the end of the night and tell me they’re going to hire me.’ Not because I’m overly confident — I just thought my passion for what I wanted to do with the program came out in the interview.”
Of the interview, Athletic Director Steve Eskridge said, “He was very knowledgeable about our programs, the soccer community, and he was very eager to start working right away.
“He has a magnetic personality, and an incredible amount of enthusiasm that’s needed to be successful in coaching,” Eskridge said.
Warner has plans to revamp the team that struggled to a 4-10-1 record last season. With just one returning player, he has to fill almost an entire roster. Luckily, his time in Bothell has left him with a base of players, three of whom he says are coming to SCC.
He said that next year, he thinks his defense is going to surprise a lot of people.
Warner possesses poise for good reason. He played varsity basketball and soccer in high school, but it didn’t stop there. For soccer, he played the full range of positions and even went through the local version of the Olympic Development Program, where he played with Nick Downing, 1998’s Gatorade Player of the Year (an award given to the best athlete in each sport across all the high schools in the U.S.).
Warner had a scholarship to play soccer at Gonzaga, but he wasn’t convinced by his recruiting trip.
“I made a last-second decision to do a campus visit over at Loyola Marymount, and they were doing a blood drive for a fellow student where the line went around the school,” he said. “I told my parents, ‘This is where I want to go.’”
At Loyola Marymount, he was a walk-on until he failed to make a series of cuts that included all of the walk-ons. He joined the club team at the school instead.
While this is his first time coaching at the collegiate level, Warner brings enormous pedigree from the high school level. He coached the boys’ team at his alma mater, Kirkland’s Lake Washington High School, right after college, and even coached his younger brother for his senior year.
Four years in, he took over the girls’ program at Bothell High while keeping his Lake Washington job due to the alternate playing seasons. Two years later, he moved to Bothell to coach both the girls’ and boys’ teams.
He even beat current Seattle Sounder Jordan Morris’ Mercer Island High School team to make it to the state tournament during Morris’ sophomore season. Warner also won a variety of coaching awards for his achievements, including being named 4A KingCo Coach of the Year three times.
Warner said he sees differences in the women’s game compared to the men’s. He thinks that the women’s game is more tactically driven. Women generally will listen to a coach they respect, whereas men are less invested with who the coach is, he said. This gives him the ability to inject more of his personal style into his team.
When he watches national teams play on television, he mostly looks for the set pieces (a free kick, corner kick or a goal kick). These are the situations when play is stopped beforehand and strategy becomes more relevant. He says he’s looking at the movement of the players.
“Sometimes I’ll watch what coaches do differently tactically if they are down a goal with like 10 minutes left,” he said.
His favorite book on soccer is Anson Dorrance’s “Training Champions.” (Dorrance is the highly decorated coach of the women’s team at the University of North Carolina and has led them to the utter domination of their competition.) Warner incorporates Dorrance’s philosophy into his coaching method.
“At a very young age … women are taught that to compete is not a good thing, it’s not a popular thing,” Warner said. “What I brought over to Bothell and what we’re going to bring to Shoreline is being comfortable with the idea that it’s okay to compete against one another.”
“I like helping people,” he continued. “Not just soccer specific, but health and education. I feel like I’ve had a blessed life, I’ve had a good family. I feel like I have a lot to give.”
Warner said the most daunting task ahead of him will be recruiting, which he is doing for the first time. He said he thinks it’s the biggest difference between the two levels of competition. He believes he has done a good job with recruiting so far, but admits he has no baseline for comparison.
Married with two young children, he has taken a key lesson from his family: “The number one thing is patience and understanding that every kid is different,” he said.
There will be an “open field” on May 11 for all recruited players and anyone interested in coming out for the team.