Coming home to Gig Harbor
Kim Demianiw wasn’t planning to take over as head coach for the Peninsula girls soccer team this year but now finds herself in the top position with a hunger for the team to go farther this year than they ever have before.
“It was actually not my plan,” Demianiw said. “When the position came open, I applied.”
And just like that, Demianiw went from being an assistant coach last year to now stepping up to take over from former head coach Jenny Buys who she had worked closely with.
“I just realized that I was still really passionate about the work that Jenny and I started,” Demianiw said. “I wasn’t ready to be done yet. This was, I guess, the next step. That was my magic moment when I realized yeah, I really did want to take on this task and give it a shot.”
The ultimate goal for the Seahawks? To make a run at state where they have struggled to break through as far as they would like in previous years.
“It’s been a little while since we’ve been to the state tournament,” Demianiw said. “Getting there the past two times out of four years together was a big accomplishment.”
That wasn’t enough for her as coach however and she was left feeling there was some unfinished business that she still is hoping to complete before she herself hangs up her coach’s hat.
“It kinda felt a little undone and it will always feel like that I guess,” Demianiw said. “Whenever you decide to leave, there will always be girls there that you coach. I just had some good connections with some kids that I wanted to keep going with.”
There are many of those kids that are returning, but Demianiw is also keeping an open mind to any players that come out as no one player has a set spot on the team.
“Our tryouts don’t begin until Monday and these are just players that I’m just excited about having back and seeing out on the pitch again for tryouts,” Demianiw said. “If we have some freshmen coming in and blowing us away for sure we’re going to consider that too.”
With that being said, she still had some initial thoughts about the potential strengths the team will have.
Starting with the defense, Demianiw specifically called out Elyse Donley and Bethany Lund who she praised for their strong play last year.
“The defenders, Elyse and Bethany, they really did a great job holding down the back for us,” Demianiw said. “I’m excited that they’re going to be back in play.”
Moving up the field, there also are returning players Ashlyn Valdez and Lena Janson who will bring some strong play to the team.
“Ashlyn, she is kind of a utility player and she’s pretty awesome. She will do whatever you ask her to do. She’s talented and is pretty successful wherever you put her so I’m happy that she’ll be back too,” Demianiw said. “Lena is a center midfielder. She’s really dynamic. She brings a lot of leadership to the team.”
The team also has Dani Rodriguez who had previously struggled with injury problems but was a key asset to the team as well.
“We’re just excited to have her back,” Demianiw said. “She’s a great offensive player and brings a lot of speed, some creativity there as well.”
Demianiw is still looking for anyone on the team to step up to fill in the gaps that inevitably come from strong players graduating and moving on specifically Madison Grande who had been the team’s strongest offensive presence.
“Our leading scorer from last year graduated so I’m waiting to see who is going to step up and take that role for us this year,” Demianiw said.
The other big role that the team has to fill is for keeper as Ali Campigotto, their sole player in that position, who graduated last year.
“We do not have a keeper. Our keeper graduated last year. That’s up for grabs right now.” Demianiw said. “There was no varsity backup.”
There is still a lot up in the air as for how the team will be arranged, once they finalize their roster, but Demianiw emphasized how she wants to remain flexible based on what her team ends up looking like.
“We’ve traditionally done a 4-4-2 on the varsity side and I’ve played around with some other things on JV because you have to work with the talent that you have,” Demianiw said. “That’s kind of what I’m waiting to see here but I would love to try a 4-3-3 with this group.”
Beyond the nitty gritty and the minutiae of the team, Demianiw has a driving philosophy that she hopes to bring to the team this season.
“I think my key thing that I want to get out of this season is just for there to be some joy for these players,” Demianiw said. “While I’m very competitive and I want to win a lot of games, I personally need to keep in perspective that this is their high school experience and they need to help define what that is going to be for them as well.”
As for what joy would be for her as a coach? She has a simple answer.
“Just to be really simple about it. Just to see them be happy,” Demianiw said. “Most importantly want to work for each other. I think you can win a lot of games when you’re playing for each other.”