EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 28, 2013

Replacing giants

North Andover High turns soccer programs over to new coaches

By Bill Burt
bburt@eagletribune.com

---- — ere are a few numbers the that rookie high school soccer coaches, Lisa Rasanen and Kyle Wood, face at North Andover High this fall.

The people they are replacing — former girls coach Bud McCarthy, who coached 26 years there, and former boys coach Bill Tarbox, who coached 40 years, 22 at the high school — pretty much built powerhouses over the last two-plus decades.

McCarthy and Tarbox, who both retired after their seasons last fall, combined to win 780 games and too many league championships to mention over 66 years of coaching.

Wood and Rasanen aren’t running away from those incredible stats of their predecessors. In fact, that’s why they wanted their new jobs in the first place.

“I have been privileged to work under Bill Tarbox for the past 11 years,” said Wood, who is a Wellness teacher at North Andover Middle School, who had been coaching the school’s freshman boys since 2001.

“Bill is well respected in the soccer community and has a tremendous amount of knowledge about the game and about the art of coaching. It will be difficult to fill his shoes,” said Wood. “Our team has a rich tradition of sportsmanship and success that I am going to work very hard to maintain and uphold.”

Rasanen and Wood know each other pretty well. Both joined the respective soccer programs and started teaching in 2001 — Rasanen was girls JV coach and Wood was freshmen coach.

“Kyle and I starting working in North Andover the same year, both at the high school and coaching soccer,” said Rasanen, who is married with one child. “I am also certified as a K-12 physical education teacher and taught with Kyle for three years at the high school before he was moved to another school. Kyle is a great coach and I am excited to be working with him.”

Both Rasanen and Wood both said a key part of their jobs will be getting down to see and teach the younger players in town.

“I would like to build a more concrete relationship with our youth program, developing clinics in which the high school players and younger kids work together to better develop their skills,” said Rasanen. “I hope we can create a foundation that makes every girls soccer player in North Andover want to come to the high school to be a Scarlet Knight.”

“Our high school success is largely due to the youth soccer program (North Andover Soccer Association),” said Wood. “The skills, knowledge, and passion that our players are given through their involvement in this program is vital to their future success at a varsity level. It would only make sense for our team to give back to this program.”

Wood graduated from Westfield State College in 1997, and was a goalkeeper for two years. He also was a varsity girls soccer coach at Northbridge High from for three seasons, 1998-2000, after graduating.

Rasanen, who starred at Merrimack College and played for Coach McCarthy at North Andover High, says her coaches had a big effect on her love of the sport.

“North Andover is a wonderful place to teach and coach. I have had great mentors, like Kevin McCarthy and Gabe Mejail (at Merrimack) as far as coaching soccer goes and was able to learn a great deal from them,” said Rasanen. “It will be nice to move into a well-established program and show how well we can compete in the MVC.”

As for their coaching styles, we may have to wait a while to find that out.

“We want to play at a very high skill level, but at the same time also maintain a high level of character while doing so,” said Wood. “As all high school coaches, my goal is to win a state championship. Very few teams end their season with a win. Bill has left me with a great winning tradition that I will work very hard to uphold.”

Rasanen concurred.

“I feel it is really dependent on your strengths and weaknesses as a team, and can change from year to year,” said Rasanen. “We have a talented group coming back next year and I will have to decide over the next few months how I see them all fitting together as a group.”