After Yanet Candido finished her sophomore year at Wenatchee Valley College in 2007, she wanted to continue her soccer playing career at a four-year program, as most community college athletes aspire to do. After Candido finished her playing career with Northwest University (Kirkland) several years later, she wanted to begin her coaching career.
Similarly, Daria Winckler, an All-America pick while playing volleyball at WVC in 2009 and 2010, knew that she wanted to get into coaching after finishing her career at Texas A&M University-International last year.
Both women didn’t have to wait long for their opportunity to coach, as it turned out — and they found themselves back in familiar territory.
Candido and Winckler are in their first year at the helm of the WVC women’s soccer and volleyball programs, respectively.
They’re far from the only former WVC players that have returned to coach, however.
Rachel Bromiley-Goetz, the Knights women’s basketball coach, played at WVC from 2001-03.
In addition, three other Knights athletic programs currently have assistant coaches that played at WVC — Laurel Wyatt (softball), Lauren Daling (women’s basketball) and Peter Osborn (men’s soccer). One of Winckler’s assistants, Shade Orr, played at WVC as well.
WVC athletic director Greg Franz first got to know these people when they came to WVC as freshmen. Now, he’s watching them mature into adults and begin careers of their own.
“I feel like a proud parent, if that makes sense,” he said. “One thing that people who aren’t part of the program may not understand is that at a small community college, (the athletic programs) do become a family. I think (these coaches) are comfortable here, and are proud to come back. It was a combination of the right opportunity presenting itself at the right time, and them having the courage to step through this door to give (coaching) a try. I do think they have a very positive association with their (playing) experience at WVC, so it was easy to sell.”
Candido was recruited to replace Lori Van Lith by assistant coach (and former head coach) Jon Wright. (Candido served as an assistant coach for the Knights in 2009 before going to Northwest University.) Winckler was named as an assistant coach earlier in the year, but was quickly promoted after Kelly Ketcham — the first coach in the program’s history — resigned.
Both teams haven’t had a lot of success so far this season.
The volleyball team is in last place in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges East Region with a 1-8 record (6-22 overall).
Winckler’s efforts have been compromised by the fact that the Knights haven’t had the services of Jordan Lautenbach — who would’ve perhaps been the team’s best player — all season due to injuries. Several other players from last year’s team didn’t return this fall, and Winckler, as a relatively late hire, didn’t have a lot of time to recruit to fill those spots. As a result, the team has been playing with just eight players all season.
“We’ve had a lot of speed bumps along the road,” Winckler said earlier in the season. “But we’re learning how to compete. We’re short on numbers, so we’ve had to adjust, have some players play (multiple) positions. I’m proud of how they’ve performed and how well they’ve adapted to any situation. We just want to learn and build, and hopefully peak at the end of the season.”
The women’s soccer team has picked up a win and two ties in the past three weeks, but still sports a 1-11-2 East mark (1-13-2 overall)
But there’s no doubt that the team has been far more competitive this season that it has been in recent years. Through Saturday’s game, the Knights have scored 15 goals and allowed 55 through 16 games; in 19 games last season, they scored seven goals and allowed 158.
“People say to me, ‘You’re so young (to be a head coach), it’s got to be hard,’ ” Candido said. “Yes, it is hard. The first year is supposed to be hard. But I’m learning. Most of (my players) are freshmen, and this generation is different from mine. It’s taking some time, and I’ve learned to teach every individual a certain way, because they’re different. They’re as different as the cities they came from.
“I tell them that I know that it’s hard to adjust (to this level). When I went off to (Northwest University), I think I was the only Hispanic player on the team. It was hard to adjust to that. We tell them, ‘We know it’s hard, but trust us.’ We’re a family now. We do team bonding stuff, and they love it.”
Franz is able to look beyond the teams’ records; he’s optimistic that both programs can enjoy prosperity in coming years under the tutelage of their young head coaches.
“Yanet has brought back a real competitive (spirit),” he said. “That team has taken a major step in a positive direction. It’s not translating into a lot of wins, but they’ve certainly been competitive. I’ve been impressed with how the (volleyball) team has managed to play consistently hard. Coach Winckler and her staff are getting the most of their players.
“I feel good about where these programs are headed and the expertise that these women bring to the table as coaches. I think we’re on the ground floor of some exciting times. When both of these women have the chance to recruit, (the teams will improve); they both need depth. They’re both in difficult situations, but I enjoy watching them. They both have a great demeanor, class, and are good young coaches.”
Franz believes that the fact that Winckler and Candido played at WVC will serve as a unique benefit to them as coaches.
“They know the faculty, they understand the climate at WVC, and they believe in (the culture),” he said. “It’s easy for them to sell their success. Their success is a reflection of what people can accomplish (when they join) a WVC athletic program.”
“I think (playing here) has helped me out a lot,” Candido said. “I know the different schools, which helps for recruiting, I know the area. It’s awesome — I feel like I’m back at home. I help the girls with classes; I can say, ‘Take this class with this instructor or that instructor.’ A lot of people that are helping me are teachers that are still here from when I was a student. I feel comfortable going back to them.”
Winckler has had similar experiences.
“I think it’s been a huge positive for me coming back into the WVC program,” she said. “So many coaches have been here so long, and even though I never got the chance to coach under (a veteran coach), so many coaches here have surrounded me and supported me. I can go to them for advice. I’m so grateful for that.”