The Gig Harbor girls soccer team underwent some big changes during the offseason, but one thing the Tides hope won’t change is the program’s current run of success.
Last season, the Tides advanced all the way to the Class 4A state semifinals, thanks to a wild flurry of penalty kick shootout victories.
This year, Gig Harbor brings former United States Women’s National Team and current Seattle Reign FC defender Stephanie Cox into the fold to coach alongside longtime boys head coach Todd Northstrom.
“It definitely drives us more,” senior forward Joey Watermeyer said about Cox. “She acts as a role model. She plays with us instead of just coaching us, and freezing us and helping to direct us. It’s really respectable. Obviously, she knows what she’s doing. Part of her being a player, she understands where we come from if we have questions. She’s able to relate to us because she’s going to her own games after her practices.”
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Cox will co-coach with Northstrom, who has the Tides boys team in the conversation for the Narrows 4A title year in and year out.
“I’m having fun,” Northstrom said. “It’s nice to have someone with her level of play to bring her perspective and just kind of bounce ideas off. A lot of the stuff we do, it’s pretty much the same. It’s just a matter of us kind of figuring out our roles. After one week, we feel pretty good about what we’re doing. We just figure they need to have both our voices at times.”
Watermeyer, a speedy forward who might play more centrally this year rather than outside, is soaking up Cox’s experience and teaching.
“With her experience, as a role model, she’ll be able to drive us to do the best we can with what we have because I think it’s going to be a great season,” she said. “With the new coaches, there’s a lot of drive for us to do well. We kind of want to prove ourselves to the coaches.”
While the Tides lost a couple of key defenders to graduation, the players on this year’s team expect to be just as good, if not better.
“We have a lot of seniors, so this is kind of our year,” Watermeyer said. “It’s now or never, we have to make the most of it. I think it’s going to be a really fun season. I think that we can go far and I’m hoping we can do it with the skills that we have.”
Northstrom said Cox has improved the program with “simple things,” such as tweaking drills to make them more effective. Northstrom is just hoping to be helpful while Cox slides full-time into the head coaching role next season.
“I’m more of the manager, trying to show her how to do all the ASB, booster, senior day, ordering everything,” Northstrom said. “Whatever she needs me for, great. But it’s her job. She’ll be able to step into this role of head coach pretty easily. She’s going to be good. What a benefit for us at Gig Harbor to have this.”
Everyone is ready to get the season started.
“I’m excited to see it,” Northstrom said. “The girls have been enthusiastic. I think we’ll bring a little different style of play. Hopefully, we’ll be able to score some more goals. It’ll be fun.”