Following his years of resounding success at the helm of SFU’s men’s soccer program, it was announced Friday that head coach Alan Koch has joined Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 — essentially a player development team for the ‘Caps — as the first head coach for their inaugural season.
The seven-year tenure as coach began in 2008, where Koch, a former member of the men’s soccer team himself, would guide the squad in its transition from NAIA play into NCAA Division II competition. Each challenge of the division was well-taken, and Koch orchestrated an undefeated season in 2011 before he took the Clan into back-to-back NCAA Division II final four finishes in 2012 and 2013.
The day after his official presentation to the media with the Whitecaps, Koch spoke with The Peak at SFU’s Terry Fox Field all dressed in his blue and white tracksuit, admittedly with a bittersweet feeling on his return to the grounds.
“I love SFU, I love everything about it,” said Koch. “It is a sad day to move on, but I will always be a proud alumni both as a student, as a coach, and as a player. I will always be around coming back to watch the guys play, that’s for sure.”
Even amidst the many congratulatory remarks of late, the native of South Africa is fully focused on his new task at hand and the hopes to achieve great things.
“It’s great to have a new job, but I’m just excited to hit the ground running and get some work done,” continued Koch. “Now I want to go out and give the team, the club, and the fans something to celebrate.”
The journey from player to coach has been a rich one for Koch, and courtship from the Vancouver-based club has been there from the get-go. An offer to play for the ‘Caps arrived immediately following his career as an SFU athlete, but Koch opted to continue his play in Ireland. Upon his return, a partnership began with the Whitecaps, as he worked as the women’s team coach before also aiding the club as a scout.
Now with a full time commitment on the horizon, Koch believes that the coaching opportunity with the first year USL PRO (United Soccer League) team is the next best step.
“I have a lot of respect for the organization, the people that manage it, as well as [Whitecaps head coach] Carl Robinson and his technical staff — it just felt like the right decision,” he said.
For those who witnessed the matches played by the Clan under the leadership of Koch, it is clear that there will be big shoes to fill. SFU’s Director of Athletics Milt Richards echoed these feelings when he told The Peak what great qualities the coach brought to the soccer program.
“He’s a great teacher, a great mentor, and always enjoyed working with the student athletes,” said Richards. “Of course he’s exceeded expectations over the years during our transition from the NAIA into the NCAA. Thanks to him we’ve reached the top 10 level, and we will always be grateful for that.”