For every great coach there is almost always a former coach to play the role of teacher along the way. What is rare is when teacher and student become league rivals and face each other on opposing sidelines multiple times a year.
That is the scenario for two boys soccer coaches in the Wesco 3A South — Glacier Peak head coach Kyle Veach and Mountlake Terrace head coach George Dremousis. Both coaches are in their first year at their respective schools.
The relationship between the two began over a decade ago when Dremousis recruited Oak Harbor’s Veach to play at Shoreline Community College. Veach played one season for Dremousis before transferring to Northwest University where he played three more years of college soccer.
Veach made an impact on Dremousis’ Shoreline C.C. team as soon as he arrived. He was an all-league selection at outside midfielder and did so well that he got the attention of other schools as well. One of those schools, Northwest University, offered Veach a scholarship, which he accepted.
But first he had to break the news to Dremousis.
Veach invited Dremousis and his wife out to dinner to inform them of his decision.
“I kind of broke the news to them, which I was really nervous about,” Veach said. “They just did nothing but celebrate. We toasted and raised our glasses and it ended up being a really cool and memorable night for me.”
Dremousis learned a lot about Veach because of how he handled that situation.
“That kind of just showed the kind of character he has,” Dremousis said. “He wanted to take us out to dinner because he felt so bad he wasn’t going to play a second year for me.”
Veach might have only played one season for Dremousis, but he said it was some of the most fun he’d ever had playing soccer.
Veach immediately tapped into that influence when he began his coaching career.
“You can sum up how I coach, how I view training young people and how I would treat a referee — it all stems from how he taught us and how he trained me,” Veach said.
In two seasons as the Stanwood boys soccer coach, Veach transformed the Spartans from a two-win team to the Wesco 3A North champions.
Veach resigned as the boys and girls head coach at Stanwood in the offseason to pursue an opportunity to become a full-time pastor in Snohomish. The Glacier Peak job opened up around the same when Grizzlies’ head coach Shannon Murray resigned because of other coaching obligations.
Veach applied for and was offered the position.
After accepting the job, Veach reached out to Dremousis, who had recently resigned as the head coach at Trinity Lutheran College to spend more time with his family. Veach asked if Dremousis would be interested in helping out with the Glacier Peak program not knowing Dremousis would soon have his own coaching obligations once again.
Dremousis, who is also a teacher at Mountlake Terrace, was approached about the job after former head coach Gary Hunter suddenly resigned. Feeling a sense of obligation at the school he began his coaching career as an assistant in 1993, Dremousis accepted the job.
Veach, who saw the news on Facebook, immediately reached out to his old coach.
“I messaged him instantly and congratulated him on being able to coach at the school that he’s teaching at,” Veach said. “I was talking some trash in that message as well.”
Veach said no sooner than pressing the send button Dremousis sent a message of his own, saying he was excited to coach against Veach.
They won’t have to wait long, the Hawks travel to Glacier Peak on April 4.
“Tactically we kind of know each other’s philosophy,” Dremousis said. “I know he knows mine and I think I kind of know his, so that part will be fun.”
Veach seemed to agree.
“I think naturally our players and our systems will kind of cancel each other out,” Veach said.
Though both coaches have had a friendship over a decade, there is no question their competitiveness will kick in on the night of the game.
“I love him, but I also would love to beat him,” Veach said.
While the two teams may have similar philosophies, there is no denying the programs are at different places. The Grizzlies finished second in the Wesco 3A South last season, going on to win the district championship and advance to the state quarterfinals.
The Hawks won just two games all season.
How quickly can Dremousis turn it around?
“Instantly,” Veach said. “What I did in Stanwood is only because George taught me how to do that. He’s taking on something very similar in the Terrace program.
“George is the ultimate soccer salesman to his systems because they work.”
Dremousis set the tone early for the Hawks in the season’s first practices.
“We just came in and said, ‘Look we’re going to start over,’” Dremousis said. “‘I don’t care if you played JV or varsity last year, we’re going to go with the best 16-18 guys.’”
So far the new energy Dremousis has pumped into the programs has seemed to work.
“The guys the past few weeks have just been a joy,” Dremousis said. “They’re hard-workers. They really want to win and they want to get back to where they were when I started at Mountlake Terrace when we were winning state championships and Wesco titles.”
The Hawks strength will be their talented group of center midfielders that include Ivan Melchor, Victor Ruelas and Alec Somers. Dremousis called the group “tactically good players” and said they work well with each other.
“I think we’re going to build through those three,” Dremousis said. “They are dedicated fundamentally-sound players.”
The Grizzlies will be a team loaded with senior leadership, but success might depend how some of the younger players adapt to their role on varsity. With 11 seniors, five juniors and three or four sophomores that Veach expects to contribute, depth shouldn’t be a problem for the Grizzlies.
Leading the way will be senior Branson Corwin, a returning All-Area second-team forward.
“Branson Corwin is obviously a phenomenal goal-scoring threat at any time,” Veach said. “But we also have seniors that haven’t been able really shine yet.
“We really do have an extremely talented side that will fight for each other and will fight for every win.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.