Spokane Shadow’s Evergreen Premier League team has a new head coach in 2017. He’s Mike Pellicio, the Director of Coaching for Shadow youth. goalWA.net sent Mike a few questions so we could learn more about his approach to the game. See our Q & A below.
Why did you decide to take on coaching the Shadow EPLWA side?
Mike Pellicio: As the director of coaching with the youth club, I was happy to take on the role of head coach for Shadow 2 because it would enable me to work with the best players who have come through our program these past few years.
I believe firmly that the first teams are the top of the pyramid for a youth soccer club. If we can offer a fully-integrated vertical pathway then we can be a platform for players that extends long beyond the conclusion of their youth careers. I had a very frustrating experience coming back from college in the summers, and post-graduation, in finding the right environment to continue my competitive experiences with the sport. I would have loved to play in a league like the Evergreen Premier League, if only it had been an option in San Diego!
What are your thoughts after the first half of the season?
Mike Pellicio: I think this is an excellent league for both competition and style of play. I have been thrilled by the tactical challenges presented by each team—whether they’re challenging us through set pieces, building from the back, or looking to get runners in behind our backline. The tactical diversity of this league, in my opinion, accurately captures the free-spirited culture of the Pacific Northwest.
Describe the kind of program you like to run and style of play you prefer.
Mike Pellicio: I want my players to be brave, positive, and optimistic. If you want your players to share these views of the sport, it’s absolutely vital to provide meaningful opportunities for young players. Our entire club has an ethos, from top-to-bottom, and our players are given a lot of trust regardless of their age. This outlook pays off in the long-term, despite short-term challenges, and Shadow 2 has certainly been a great vehicle for this process for our young players in both training and in real match minutes.
We’re a little different as a club because we have a club-wide style of play that teams are expected to follow, from the U10 teams to the Men’s and Women’s First Teams and Shadow 2. The club’s philosophy is to be brave enough to build from the back, to search for numerical superiority, to value possession of the ball above all else. We never want to possess the ball without a purpose, though, and that’s been the focus of a lot of our training sessions: Yes, we have the ball, but why? What are we planning to do with it? And how do we do that as a team?