Girls soccer receives new coaching staff

Caileane Thurston, Reporter

Kicking off the new year on the right foot, USD 373 has officially named two new assistant soccer coaches for 2022 and future seasons. Marco Antonio Valdivia and Mariah Banning were recently hired as the new assistant coaches for girls soccer. Valdivia has been playing soccer his whole life and is very passionate about the game. Additionally, he says that he has been coaching his own children since they could walk, with a ball close in toe. 

Besides his own children, Valdivia takes part in coaching competitive soccer, traveling with teams to Wichita, Kansas City, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Colorado. He feels that he has always had the ability to have a positive influence while coaching and promoting soccer due to his own experiences and knowledge of the game. He knows many details about soccer and wants to make a difference by making a positive impact on the athletes mindset and overall demeanor about the game. 

 “I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. Soccer is a big deal there like football is a big deal in the U.S.,” Valdivia said. “I always felt more comfortable speaking to children about soccer, than explaining it to adults.” 

Valdivia first started to coach with his family, such as his son Xander in 2007. Over the years he has had many experiences, opinions and thoughts about soccer. He is very passionate about the game and wants to do better on his own to make himself better and additionally the girls soccer team better. 

“I have four children, two boys [who] are the oldest, then two girls. I went from being a hard, sturn coach, to a more comprehensive listener,” Valdivia said. “I feel girls really listen and seem like they play even harder than boys to prove themselves worthy of the game. While having two girls, it seems harder for them to feel equally worthy of this sport and appreciated.”

Valdivia has been coaching for two years at NHS, however only for the boys soccer program. He thinks it is particularly interesting transitioning from boys soccer to girls soccer because he feels girls work harder and do not complain about what he asks them to do. He is hoping that he can be of interest in the sport of soccer and that he can pass on the love and passion that he personally feels for the game.

 “To children and young adults, [soccer] is a sport that helps teach everyone, besides our differences, on the field we can become one and work together to a better outcome,” Valdivia said. “Especially because of our small community, regardless of what the score is on the board. Learn to help each other and learn to trust the other players.” 

One of the most challenging aspects Valdivia wishes to impose at NHS, is that as long as you give it your all and play your very best, then you will always end with your head held high. Win or lose, he says that if you just keep going forward and keep working, at the end, hard work pays off. 

“I pray that I am a good fit for this year’s team. I will give it my all, to listen, and also give back, to the best of my ability,” Valdivia said. “I am looking forward to the season and the years to come.” 

Mariah Banning was also recently hired as a new soccer coach. She is a Newton alumni and played for head coach Jantzi while in high school. She continued her soccer career while in college at Bethel College. Banning had the opportunity to coach alongside Jantzi her junior and senior years of college.

“I love the connection to students who I don’t see on a regular basis,” Banning said. “I’m excited to learn from Marco and Jantzi.”

Mariah continued to coach in McPherson for two years before family engagements became the main concern of her time. She is very excited to be back on the field to help advancing players with their knowledge of the game and hopes to bring laughter and fun to the field. 

“I’m pretty flexible and easy going so I believe I will be a good addition to the team,” Banning said.