Waukee’s Sander takes over program

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After a season filled with a coaching vacancy and a temporary coach, the women’s soccer team has now found a permanent replacement. On Dec. 11, Simpson College announced Ryan Sander as the next women’s soccer coach.

Sander, who is a graduate of Iowa State University, has coached at Waukee since 2002. His teams at Waukee have advanced to the Iowa state tournament seven of the eight years that Sander has been there. Sander is originally from Grimes and attended Dallas-Center Grimes High School.

So far Sander has enjoyed his time as a college coach and has met with his players at different times.

“Since being hired I have met with the girls once a month,” Sander said. “I’ve had a lot of questions to try and get to know them and a few have had a second meeting. We can’t practice now so I’m eager to definitely watch them and see them play.”

The selection process for a new coach began after the season was complete and featured members of the women’s team, athletic department, admissions office and other faculty members. After interviewing four candidates on campus, the committee and Athletic Director John Sirianni decided on Sander.

“There were several things that impressed me,” Sirianni said. “First was his demeanor with the kids. Second was his level of success at Waukee; third, his plan of approach to have success. All his references were extra-positive and he did have some history dealing with facility management which is the other part of his job.”

One of the people involved with the selection process was sophomore midfielder Katherine Bird. Bird, of Iowa City, was glad to get the opportunity to talk to potential candidates.

“It was a pretty good opportunity,” Bird said. “It gave us the chance to meet other coaches and it was a good experience overall.”

Next season will be bottom heavy for the women’s soccer team without any seniors. Even though there are a large number of returning starters and players, this does pose a challenge for the returners leadership-wise. Bird, however, is glad to accept this challenge.

“I think we should have a pretty good season next year,” Bird said. “It’s pretty exciting that we can step up and have a good season as juniors and then have everyone come back and have an even better season as seniors.”

The Storm and Sander will get to meet starting March 22 as the team will start spring practices. Between then and April 8 the team will get eight practices before leaving in the summer and beginning the season in the fall.

Even though Sander is a new coach and new to the Iowa Conference, he has high expectations for the team.

“I’d like to finish in the top two or three in the conference and win the conference tourney,” Sander said. “They’re kind of big goals right now but with what we have coming back it’s reachable. We have zero seniors so a lot of our leadership will come from the juniors. We got a really good group of girls.”