WALLA WALLA — After stepping away from the program after the 1995 season, Keven Peck is returning to coach the Walla Walla High School girls soccer team this year.
Peck is now be tasked with leading a team that finished 3-12 last season.
The Wa-Hi transformation begins with the players buying into Peck’s philosophies, he said.
“We’re big on everybody (being) accountable to everyone else,” Peck said. “Every player has a role responsibility when we have a possession, and everyone has a responsibility when we lose possession.”
Peck coached both the boys and girls soccer team at Wa-Hi from 1990 to 1995. He remained the boys head coach until 1999, when he stepped away from the program to spend more time with his family.
He then spent time as a tennis coach and assistant football coach, but soccer has always held a special place in Peck’s heart, he said.
“Soccer has always been my real passion and my first love, obviously,” Peck said. “It’s good to be actually putting some theory into practice. Even though I’ve been away from the game for a long time, I’ve never (really) been away from it.”
Peck said the Blue Devils will look a lot different than last season. To begin with, Peck expects his players to be physically fit and committed to working hard every day.
But more than anything, Wa-Hi must play with a team-first mentality in order to be successful, he said.
“We are looking for all the players to be impact players — never putting all of the responsibility on one or two players to make the team successful,” Peck said in an email. “We will succeed as a team. Our goal is to make sure each player understands and executes her role in the team tactical plan.”
The Blue Devils’ tactical plan is also changing under their new coach. Peck said rather than placing positional restrictions on his players, they will be able to move freely throughout the field.
But all phases of the game will be played as a team, Peck said, with players contributing on both offense and defense.
“I’m not going to hold girls back from running forward and going into spaces on the field they’re not used to going in to,” he said. “I’m not restricting players. We’re going to be pushing players through open spaces and moving the ball quickly.”
Peck said the Blue Devils will feature nine players with varsity experience. So far, the veterans have done a great job buying into his coaching philosophies, he said.
Although Peck expects his seniors to assume leadership roles, he said the entire roster has blended perfectly.
“I’ve been really impressed with the way everyone has transitioned,” Peck said. “The girls that were on varsity last year have completely welcomed, embraced and encouraged all the girls that are new on the roster.”
Although they have not worked together extensively, Peck is confident his team’s determination will pay dividends this season.
“The girls are working very hard to establish a good fitness base and understand our tactical plan,” Peck said in an email. “Their attitudes have been awesome and they have had a work ethic to match. We have work to do, but I am excited to see what the season will bring.”
The Blue Devils begin the season with a home match against Kennewick at 5 p.m. Thursday.