Waterloo West High School Boy's Soccer: News Updates

Saturday, May 22

West's Coaching Tree Takes Root

By SEAN HYLTON, Courier Sports Writer

(Saturday, May 22, 2004 "Waterloo Courier Edition)


Brian Bahl is approaching the school record for coaching victories at West Waterloo.

Nearing the end of his fourth season, he enters districts today just four boys'
soccer wins shy of Ali Rahnavardi's six-year total of 45. But, by the time his career
with West is finished, Bahl's impact on soccer in the area will have impacted far
more than just one metro high school and resulted in far more victories than just one
coach earns.

That's because Bahl is doing more than developing soccer players — he's churning out
coaches, too. Each year, Bahl takes one to three of his just-graduated players and
welcomes them onto his coaching staff. It started four years ago with former
defenseman Ben Jones, and it continues today with volunteer assistant coaches Brian
Guetzlaff, Danny Dunning and Brad Smith.

"It's guys who have kind of stood out," Bahl said. "Guys who have either been a
captain for us or maybe just provided some strong leadership qualities. "It started
with Ben. The reason I asked him (to coach) is he was such a great, positive
influence and player. The following year I didn't want to not have him around the
guys." Jones spent three seasons with Bahl before landing his first regular gig this
season as the head boys' coach for the first-year program at Union High of La Porte
City.

Several others seem to be following suit. Amel Muhamedagic, a former all-state
midfielder with the Wahawks, served as an assistant coach for Bahl for two seasons
while also helping the girls' program at West. He's in his first season as the head
boys' coach at NU High in Cedar Falls.

Greg Anfinson, a star defender for West, was a volunteer assistant for Bahl before
taking an assistant's job with the Columbus girls' program this season. Aaron
Broshar, a standout goalkeeper and defender at West, is serving as Jones' assistant
at Union, while recent graduates Guetzlaff, Dunning and Smith are the volunteers
behind regular assistants Tim Lind and Evans Denniston.

"Brian's the next one, if he wants it," Bahl said. "He could make a terrific coach."
The volunteer assistant positions are invaluable resources for Bahl, too. His
program's budget won't obviously allow for an unlimited staff, so he welcomes the
help two or three unpaid coaches can provide.

It's a career path Bahl has traveled himself. After graduating from Dubuque
Hempstead, coaches there suggested he'd make a good mentor, too. "I wanted to get
into coaching anyway," Bahl said, "but it helped redefine the direction I wanted to
go (with coaching)."

He served as an assistant at Hempstead for two seasons, then became involved with
club soccer. After moving to Waterloo, he became an assistant for Rahnavardi at West,
while mixing in stints as an assistant at Wartburg College and Upper Iowa University.

Bahl currently doubles as the head boys' coach at West and the head women's coach at
Mt. Mercy in Cedar Rapids, which plays soccer in the fall. Jones and Muhamedagic
serve as his assistants.

"I love the game of soccer and always liked to give input the best I could, so I
always wanted to coach," Jones said. "(Brian) gave me the opportunity to do it."

Still, the first year as a volunteer assistant can be an awkward one when a coach
must give orders to boys he played alongside just one year earlier.

"That first year he brought me in for defensive purposes, which was pretty much my
specialty," Jones recalled. "I wasn't real confident, and I'd played with the guys.
But Brian pretty much gave me the confidence to be a head coach. "I think by my
(third) year at West — I hadn't been playing with those guys, and it was easy to get
key points across. There was a little more respect there."

Jones, enduring the growing pains that accompany a first-year program, has helped the
Knights win two of their 15 games. "(The Union job) is more than I could ever want.
They've given me so much respect and allowed me to grow as a coach. I was really
nervous right away, but these guys have really bought into my system and everything
that I've tried to teach them."

It's been an even smoother transition for Muhamedagic. He walked into a more
established program at NU. The Panthers have beaten Union three times this season and
stand 9-7 entering the first round of districts today. "It was really valuable (being
an assistant at West)," Muhamedagic said. "Playing soccer in high school and then
going into the coaching end of it. You could see both sides of (the sport). It was a
great opportunity."

There are more qualified candidates on the horizon. Bahl is high on Elvis Alicic, a
junior, and knowledgeable seniors Andy Knox, who will play at University of Maine
next season, and Zilhad Kanterovic.

"(Alicic) has the best possible coaching qualities that any guy has ever had here,"
said Bahl of the team captain who carries a 4.0 GPA. "He's like another coach on the
field for us."

"If you're looking for another quality, they are guys who lead by example and lead
with positive encouragement and reinforcement to their teammates," Bahl said.
"They're not guys who are going to come up and start screaming at somebody if they do
something wrong. That's more of my style and why they stand out to me."