Pilots keep it in the family

By The Beacon | September 14, 2011 9:00pm

Boston Breakers goalie Kelsey Davis returns to The Bluff as a coach

By Bruce Garlinghouse Staff Writer garlingh13@up.edu

The last time Kelsey Davis wore a Portland Pilots goalie uniform was Nov. 18, 2008 when the then No. 2 ranked Pilots lost 1-0 in the quarterfinals to Stanford.

Now she has returned to help turn around a struggling Pilots team that dropped three games for the first time since 1999. Except now she will be on the sideline as a coach instead of between the posts as a WCC first team goalie where she recorded 47 wins, the 2nd most in UP history.

"My initial reaction was I felt thankful Garret would choose me," Davis said. "To play and coach for one of the best programs in the country is incredible."

She has been working specifically with the goalies, a position Head Coach Garret Smith said the program has been trying to fill for the last couple of years but wanted to find the right fit.

Before hiring Davis, men's head coach Bill Irwin worked with the goalies, but his duties as the director of soccer and traveling with the men's team left a gap for the women's team on the road.

Smith said Davis, who plays professionally for the Boston Breakers, was an obvious choice because she is familiar with the program and the Breakers' season just ended.

"It's an honor to have her," Smith said. "She believes in this program and wants to give back to this program."

Hiring former players as coaches is not a new trend within UP's soccer program. Of the seven person coaching staff that works with both the men's and women's team, five are former Pilots, including Smith.

Being only two years removed from the program, Davis now coaches players she once called teammates.

"There is a transition period but the distinction has remained fresh in my mind," Davis said.

One of those former teammates is senior Hailee DeYoung, UP's starting goalie with whom Davis competed for playing time.

DeYoung was a sophomore when Davis was a senior and said she grew as a goalie playing behind Davis.

Now older and the starter, DeYoung said Davis has continued to help her progress.

"She has an understanding of how I play and I have an understanding of her, so it has been good thus far," DeYoung said.

Davis said she has a lot of respect for DeYoung and has enjoyed helping her develop from the standpoint of a teammate and now as a coach.

"I hope she feels the respect I do have for her," Davis said. "She has come a long way and I look forward to seeing her development."

Although she will be working closely with the goalies, Davis will also be helping with recruiting and other aspects of the program.

Before becoming a coach, Davis said she did not realize how much work goes on behind the scenes.

"As a player, your job is to focus on your fitness and the game," Davis said. "As a coach, your job is to take care of the players so their only focus is the game,"

Smith said there is no long-term plan for Davis as a coach because she is still playing professional soccer and is working to make the women's national team.

But he did say that he hopes hiring Davis full-time in the future could become a reality.

Davis said she would love to become a full-time coach.

"Portland is home. If Garret asked, that would be an easy yes," Davis said.