New girls soccer coach selected

The girls soccer team huddles during a game at Skyline Park. Robert Sprague has been selected as the team’s new coach. Photo by Ethan Roubenoff.
The girls soccer team huddles during a game at Skyline Park. Robert Sprague has been selected as the team’s new coach. Photo by Ethan Roubenoff.

A committee headed by Athletic Director Pete Rittenberg has chosen Robert Sprague to succeed Joslyn Vendola as head coach for the girls varsity soccer team. Athletic Director Pete Rittenburg said he and a committee followed a comprehensive process to choose the new coach, although some people criticized the process as insular.

Rittenburg said he was very intentional in whom he chose to be on the committee.

“We got together a committee of soccer knowledgeable people, stakeholders and community people,” he said.

According to Rittenburg, the search for the best possible candidate included many different people, and he said he ran the list of potential coaches by Headmaster Deborah Holman.

Science teacher and former assistant coach Aubrey Love who applied for the job said he felt his interview with the committee went well.

“It was a very thorough process with many groups represented by the interview committee. The interview committee asked pertinent questions and did a great job covering every detail,” Love said. “I felt by the end I was able to say what I wanted to say, and they had a good idea about what I would bring to the table.”

Love said he would have liked to see current players on the committee.

“I was disappointed that no current players, the captains, for example, were on the committee,” he said.

Love, who was assistant coach when Vendola assumed the head coaching position, said he will not be assistant coach next year.

Junior Maddie Kahl, who was on the team this year, said she was also disappointed that the players did not have a larger role in the selection process.

“The players don’t have any say, which I don’t exactly agree with,” she said.

Kahl also said that players were not kept informed of developments as the hiring process progressed.

According to Rittenburg, although players were not on the committee, they did have a voice in the process.

“I went out seeking input and plenty of input came in on its own, and I had to work with and through all of that stuff,” Rittenburg said.

The committee interviewed candidates over February vacation and reached a decision by early March.

“It’s a process,” Rittenburg said. “It required some patience from everybody, including the candidates. I think players and families were probably anxious about who was going to be the next coach.”

According to Rittenburg, the committee approached the candidates with an open mind.

“How I put it to the committee that I worked with, and any committee that I have worked with in the past, is that you cannot come in with preconceived ideas even if you know people—for better or for worse,” he said. “Ultimately, we were just searching for the best possible person in the situation at hand.”

Love said he thinks the committee had a clear vision of what they were looking for, and they found the ideal candidate.

“They were looking for a coach that was soccer specific, whose energies are spent focusing only on soccer throughout the year,” Love said. “I unfortunately didn’t fit that as I also coach lacrosse and do not coach club teams outside of school.”

After a little under a month of deliberation, the committee selected Sprague, who was head coach of the team from 2007-2010. In an email, Sprague discussed his reasons for leaving in 2010.

“It became clear to me that I needed to do more if the team was going to progress to the next level,” Sprague said. “ I needed to spend more time meeting with players, more time scouting opponents, more time analyzing game film, more time assessing the strengths and weakness of our players and more time preparing our training sessions.”

Sprague said he was unable to invest the extra time needed when he was previously coach because he had two other jobs and and had a young family to devote time to.

“I was passionate about the BHS soccer program and I’d do anything within my power to see it succeed,” he said. “Due to my schedule and responsibilities outside of BHS I felt like I was holding the program back. So I resigned at the end of the season. One of the most difficult decisions of my life.”

Kahl said she thinks the team has the potential to do well next season.

“I think he’s learned from what he did wrong and what he did right in the past,” she said. “I think that we have a very good team and we just need to switch our dynamic.”

Rittenburg said he is confident that Sprague will do well.

“I enjoyed working with him in the past,” Rittenburg said. “He’s very knowledgeable and well-organized. He knows what it was like and I think he has many ideas of what he would like to change and improve to the extent that he’s done it before.We are certainly happy where we ended up and look forward to working again with coach Sprague.”

Aaron Sege and Eoin Walsh can be contacted at [email protected]