Replacing what Blaine soccer coach Dan Steelquist has given the Borderites' soccer program will be difficult, but Blaine athletic director Wayne Vezzetti believes he found the right person in Kelly Tuski.
"I'm really excited to get Kelly into the program," he said in a phone interview. "She knows a ton about soccer, has played at a high level and gets after it. She will be great to fill (Steelquist's) shoes."
Already Tuski has made an impact on the program with work out routines she's implemented to get the girls' club ready for the fall season.
Tuski brings to Blaine a wealth of experience, knowledge and strong community ties.
She played varsity soccer at Meadowdale High School while competing on a prominent select team before playing two years at Gonzaga University. Tuski also spent three years on and off serving as an assistant coach under Steelquist, but she hasn't been with the program since 2007.
"I've been watching Dan run the program for many years now, and it's an honor to be taking over," Tuski said in a phone interview. "I'm just looking forward to getting a fresh taste of the program and working with the Blaine community to help the youth program."
Tuski is taking over a 7-11-4 team that was one win away from reaching the Class 1A State Tournament. One of her first challenges will be replacing seniors and leading goal scorers Liz Berry and Hope Wilkett as well as goalkeepers Shirin Roth-Lerner and Anna Hewitt. The Borderites do return Olivia Olason, who notched nine goals and five assists, as well as Ashley Queseda, who as a freshman showed great promise with her five goals and five assists.
"I don't know many of the girls, but I do know Olivia Olason, and she will be a great leader," Tuski said. "It will be a great opportunity for me to meet a whole new group of girls and start fresh."
Hard work and initiative is what outsiders can expect to see from the team, Tuski said, and she's enlisting the help of assistant coaches Gio Quesada, who has an expansive soccer background that includes working with the Whatcom Rangers program, and Stacy Esposito, who also brings a wealth of experience.
While the 2013 Borderites will be Tuski's to operate, she said she's learned a lot under Steelquist and hopes to emulate certain aspects of his coaching approach.
"I think pretty much how to run a high school program," said Tuski when asked what she's learned most from Steelquist. "Working with him is the only experience I have working as a coach with high schoolers. He's been a great role model for me."
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.