Sipe lands Cocalico soccer job

By on August 14, 2013

By:

TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor truth.eph@lnpnews.com

, Staff Writer

First as a player and then as a coach, success has seemed to follow Derek Sipe wherever he has gone. And now, Cocalico hopes his winning ways will follow him to Denver.

Recently, Sipe, 25, was named to succeed Bob Dungan as head boys soccer coach at the school. Dungan spent eight years at the helm prior to stepping down following last year’s successful 12-6-1 campaign.

"I’m excited," Sipe said Tuesday on landing his first varsity head coaching job. "I think both sides felt it was a pretty good match. And it’s a good school district to get started at. They have a fantastic school board, and everyone in the athletic department as well as the other coaches are all extremely supportive. And it’s a great group of kids to be involved with right away… All of that makes it a great situation, an exciting situation to get my start as far as a head varsity coach is concerned. I’m excited for it, but also recognize how much work needs to go into it."

Sipe was an All-League performer in both soccer and baseball while in high school at Ephrata, where he was part of section championship teams in both sports.

He later went on to play both soccer and baseball at Messiah College, and won a pair of NCAA championships on the soccer pitch.

Since graduation, he has parlayed his success into the coaching ranks. Sipe has been an assistant varsity baseball coach for the highly-successful Ephrata program the last three years, and as a head coach has guided the Ephrata Post 429 legion team to three-straight District 10 league titles, as well as a regional crown and State playoff appearance in 2012.

And last fall, he held his first soccer coaching position as the head JV and assistant varsity coach at Lancaster Mennonite, where he helped the Blazers advance all the way to the State finals.

Asked what he has learned as a successful baseball coach that can translate to the soccer pitch, Sipe said there are many things.

"I think the biggest thing as a young coach is to learn how to manage a team and manage a group of individuals," he said. "That’s especially true at the high school level where you have lots of different ranges of skill, you have different personalities…there are just so many dynamics. I think being involved with baseball has just really helped me as far as managing a team and how to talk to different types of individuals and how to motivate different people, how to get through to them during the games and also during practices and things like that. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve been able to learn and it will translate well into any other sport, but especially soccer this fall."

As mentioned above, Sipe was part of two of Messiah’s championships as a player in a string that has now reached nine NCAA crowns over the last 12 seasons. Naturally, the style of play he hopes to incorporate at Cocalico will be similar to what he learned as a player at Messiah.

"A lot of it is very Messiah-based, which in turn is very Dutch-based," he said. "Formation-wise, we are going to play a 4-3-3 which means it’s exciting, attacking soccer when it’s played the right way. It’s going forward with a lot of numbers so there are always opportunities, lots of angles, a lot of passing…That’s the idea of the way we want to play in the perfect world. Now, I don’t know if it will work out to doing that all of the time. We’ll have to adjust accordingly, depending on (our personnel), but a lot of it’s going to look similar to Messiah and what they do. That’s actually becoming more and more popular throughout the league, just because of Messiah’s success. A lot of the training, the in-game positional awareness, as well as tactics and style, is going to come from that avenue."

He does realize it may take some time, given the fact that he takes over a squad that graduated 14 seniors a year ago. However, after spending the summer with his new players, he has been encouraged by what he has seen thus far.

"It’s difficult to come in one year and instill a different style of soccer and all of a sudden turn it into results," he said. "But I think we are going to be extremely competitive. We have a lot of guys who have worked extremely hard over the summer and have been working real hard during pre-season thus far. They are excited about the new style of soccer and the possibilities that it brings. I think we are a team that is not expected by many to make much noise, but I don’t think the players necessarily believe that. If we have some early success it could really balloon into a successful year, recordwise. I really believe that. Either way, we are going to be a tough, competitive team that has a successful season regardless of the record."

More SIPE, page B-2

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