GREENVILLE — Since moving up to the varsity soccer team as a freshman, Greenville’s Kenna Allen has heard the talk around the league that her team is known as a bit of a push-over.
With the help of a new coach, a new attitude and a new outlook on the program, the senior captain believes Greenville girls soccer is going to shock a lot of people this spring.
“We were looking for coaches before the season started. We were looking for a change,” said Allen, who, with her teammates, sought to fill the vacant position left by last year’s coach, Jeremy Neve. “We kind of know what teams think of us. But our new coach brings in a kind of new energy or us.”
That new coach is Adam Scheidel, 46, originally from Rockford who has 10 years of soccer coaching experience in the Grand Rapids and Cedar Springs area.
Having played on a few club soccer teams in the Grand Rapids area, Allen, a goalkeeper and one of four senior captains on the Yellow Jackets team this year, sought out Scheidel, a coach for one of her club soccer teams, and quickly got him introduced to the players’ parents and Greenville Athletic Director Brian Zdanowski.
“Adam is a very warm, caring, and knowledgeable coach. We are fortunate to have someone of his character and caliber available to coach our varsity girls team, and also recently selected to coach our varsity boys team, as well,” Zdanowski said. “Both hiring committees were very impressed with what he ‘brings to the table.’ Our kids are in very good hands. He is very personable, organized, and well connected in the greater Grand Rapids soccer community.”
Scheidel said Allen was the one who “recruited” him.
“She’s the one that’s been trying to drive a change to this program,” Scheidel said.
Scheidel accepted, admitting it was hard to say no to players wanting him to lead them.
“I’ve been coaching soccer since my daughters were playing, and they are now 20 and 21, so they’ve been out of soccer for a while, but I keep coming back to coaching because the players on the team keep telling me to come back and not quit,” laughed Scheidel.
The Yellow Jackets, so far, are 1-0-1 on the young season, but, according to Allen, the team’s coach has already had a huge impact on the team.
“There’s a lot more hope for us now. With him, it’s been easy going,” Allen said. “His coaching is really simple, but he really gets the message across to the girls. He’s been able to spark something in them. We all like the way he’s coaching. It’s really getting through to us.”
The Yellow Jackets finished 6-13-1 last year, but Scheidel underlined the importance of creating a new attitude with his players and a new outlook on the program as the main goals this year.
“Our aspirations aren’t necessarily about wins and losses. It’s to change the perception of Greenville soccer for us and the rest of our league,” said Scheidel, who said he’s heard what Allen has about how Greenville is perceived as an easy team to beat. “With that, we will focus on playing better, have better teamwork and work on never giving up on the ball.”
Scheidel has been working hard with his players to build a stronger sense of teamwork, leaning heavily on his captains — Allen, seniors Kylee Krogman and Chloe Wolse and junior Tessa Tobey — to help him establish that.
He also is teaching his team to adapt to different styles of play it will see against opponents and teaching them to be a possession-style team.
“I think we’re coming together well. I’ve been coaching for a long time so I can assess that pretty quickly,” Scheidel said. “They’re kind of feeling each other out right now, figuring out who goes where and how not to step on each others’ toes. They need to work together as a team. That’s our biggest focus, to work as a team.”
Allen said she already sees a difference in teamwork in the two games the team has played so far.
“We have a lot of potential energy on this team and right away we’ve started to click. I think we’ve figured each other out, and we’re friendly to each other,” she said. “We all want to prove what we are now. With that new energy we have, we want to prove the potential we have. We just never were able to show it.
“We want to go out and shock everyone with what we bring out,” she added.