Players on the Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s and women’s soccer teams arrived for pre-season training camp this week, and they were met with the news that longtime assistant coach Mark Pries had been promoted.
“Mark’s been around the program for a lot of years now,” said third-year head coach Sean Carey. “It was a nice gesture on the college’s behalf to promote him up to a co-coach.”
“It was pretty exciting,” said Pries. “It wasn’t totally expected, so when I got the news, it was a surprise, but I’m excited and looking forward to building on what we’ve already got.”
Pries has spent eight seasons with the Kodiaks as an assistant coach but his history with Lethbridge College soccer goes back much further.
The Lethbridge native first played for the Kodiaks as a defender in 1996, and then from 2002 to 2004.
“He breathes Kodiaks soccer,” said Carey. “He’s played here for his term as well and he’s got his rewards for being a loyal coach to this program. I can’t wait to get this season going with him.”
Pries will now share coaching duties with Carey for both the men’s and women’s sides.
Carey — the 2018 ACAC Coach of the Year, for both the men and women — admitted that having two head coaches will lighten the load, especially come playoff time.
“Looking down the road in the future, both of us are here for the long haul and we want to build a legacy,” said Carey.
“With the way that playoffs go at the end of the season, with conference championships, there is a possibility that the men’s and women’s will be in two different locations, so this way, at least we have a head coach with both programs to move along.”
Carey also cited Pries’ treatment of the players as a major reason that he’s a good coach.
“He’s a very patient guy… very passionate,” said Carey.
“He’s just so involved with this group of players. He’s a very personal guy. He likes to talk one-on-one with players. He’s very positive. He boosts them all the time, which is what we’re all about too. We want these players to have a positive experience on the field.”
For Pries, while the recognition was nice, he remains focused on the players as they prepare for the 2019 season.
“We both expect our teams to be playing for gold,” said Pries. “Sean’s done a really good job recruiting this year and with the returning cast on both sides, we have a great shot.”
Both Kodiaks squads are coming off ACAC playoff appearances in 2018, with the women’s side snagging a bronze medal and the men falling to fourth after losing in penalty kicks.
“It’s come a long way in the last couple years,” said Pries. “We’ve been focusing on becoming a playoff team, and now that we’re a perennial playoff team, now it’s time to start playing for some medals and playing for some hardware.”
The Kodiaks will begin the 2019 ACAC regular season on Sept. 7 and 8 at home, against the University of Alberta – Augustana and Red Deer College, respectively.