New coaches mean new routines and a lot of hard work for the girls soccer team as they prepare for their first game of the season, but after the first few days of practice everyone seems to be on board with the changes.
The team began practice on Monday under the tutelage of their new coach, Kelly Tuski, who took over the program from
longtime coach Dan Steelquist this year. Tuski played two years at Gonzaga University, and spent several years on and off as Blaine’s assistant coach under Steelquist. Her last year with the program was in 2007.
Soon after being hired in May, Tuski began developing a summer workout routine for the team. The team has worked hard over the summer, she said, and brings a solid base of conditioning to the first week of practice.
“The girls will absolutely be ready in time for their first game,” she said.
After only a handful of practices the team is coming together, and strong leaders are already emerging. Tuski said she would be looking to Olivia Olason, Alexis McElwain and Gretchen Kordas, among others, to lead the team. Olason helped lead the offense last year, with nine goals and five assists.
The Borderites are coming off a 7–11–4 season in which they fell short of reaching the 1A State Tournament by one game. Leading goal scorers Liz Berry and Hope Wilkett, as well as goalkeepers Shirin Roth-Lerner and Anna Hewitt graduated last year, and one of Tuski’s first challenges will be replacing them.
In their first few practices, the girls have been working on a “variety of conditioning and skill drills, with lots of repetition,” Tuski said.
“I’m excited to see what they do in their first game,” she said.
Giovanni Quesada has taken on the assistant coach position, and he will take over the varsity boys soccer head coaching position from Mike Cuoto in the spring.
Quesada brings a wealth of soccer experience to the program, including work with the Whatcom Rangers program. Stacy Esposito continues in her role as junior varsity coach, as she has for years.
Esposito said the new coaches will be good for the program overall.
“New coaches mean new expectations and a lot of hard work, but change is always good,” she said. “Dan [Steelquist] was a great coach and will be missed, but having fresh energy will be awesome for the program.”
The girls play their first game at home against Sultan September 10 at Pipeline. The game begins at 4:30.