BREMERTON, WA— (club release) The Kitsap Soccer Club announced today that Andrew Chapman will be taking over the position of head coach for the PDL squad for the upcoming season. He becomes the fourth coach in six seasons, replacing James Ritchie, who resigned to take an assistant coaching position with USL PRO side Oklahoma Energy FC.
Chapman, a graduate of Olympic High School, started as an assistant coach with the Pumas for two seasons before resigning to spend more time with his family. He came back as the general manager in March of last year. He’s been the coach of the men’s soccer team with Peninsula Community College for many years, winning back to back NWAACC titles in 2012 and 2013.
“This is a big honor to be asked to coach the Pumas,” Chapman said. “(Owner) Robin Waite has tremendous faith in me and the great coaching staff we have assembled.
“Being born and raised in Bremerton, it is fantastic to be able to coach this team,” he continued. “We have a lot of enthusiastic people willing to help and some great ideas already in the works about how to move forward.”
Cammy MacDonald will be the first assistant coach, while PJ Stickney will be the other assistant.
MacDonald will also be the director of coaching for the youth teams. He has played professionally in Scotland for several years with Livingston and Airdrie United. He has gone through and competed against some of the top soccer academies in England and holds a UEFA B License, one half of the licenses needed by managers who want to be in charge of a team in the top flight.
“The transition I am making from player to first team coach is one that I’m very excited about,” MacDonald said. “Managing at the highest level is my ambition and the Pumas are a very good starting point. I’m hoping to bring a new level of professionalism to the club and this will be the start of my long term vision with a successful upcoming season.”
The team announced they have also hired a strength and conditioning coach in Mike MacKenzie.
Ritchie steps down to take job with Energy FC
BREMERTON, WA— (club release) For about an hour on Sunday, as the indoor team was getting lunch at the outlet mall next to the Tulalip Casino, head coach James Ritchie was working out the details in taking the next step in his coaching career.
Ritchie, who has coached both the USL Premier Development League team and the PASL Premier indoor team, along with being the director of the youth program, has stepped down from his jobs to take an assistant coaching position with Oklahoma Energy FC, the new USL PRO team in Oklahoma City.
Ritchie said it was thanks to the friendship he struck up with Jimmy Nielsen, the former starting goalkeeper for MLS side Sporting Kansas City. Nielsen, aka ‘The White Puma,’ retired after Sporting won the MLS Cup and shortly became the head coach of Energy FC.
The two talked some more at the Infosport Combine in Florida back in January, then a few days ago, Ritchie was contacted by Energy FC general manager Jason Hawkins, who told him that Nielsen was interested in adding him to the coaching staff. He also talked with Nielsen who officially offered him the position.
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“It came up naturally,” he said. “I knew Jimmy needed a coaching staff and I’m very flattered that the phone call came. I know they have massive ambitions as a club and they want to progress as a club which is massive. Everything I’ve seen with the club is gonna be phenomenal from everything I’ve seen and heard over the past few days.”
Hired on when the club started in 2009 as an assistant/goalkeeper coach, Ritchie has risen through the ranks over the years, taking the head coaching job in 2012 when Pete Fewing left to take the head coaching position at Seattle University. He soon added the director of the youth program and the head coach of the indoor squad as well to his resume.
Ritchie ends his tenure as head coach of the outdoor squad with a record of 13-8-9 and one playoff appearance. He’s won the Ruffneck Cup championship the past two years.
As an assistant he’s won two division titles, a Western Conference title and the 2011 USL PDL national championship.
In his first and only season as the indoor coach, he led the team to an 8-2 record and the PASL Premier Northwest-North Division title.
While he said it was very, very difficult to leave Kitsap so quickly – “It’s been the best five years of my life,” he said. “The people here have been very welcoming to a Scottish lad.” – he said he feels comfortable with where the club is headed.
“The club is doing phenomenally well,” he said. “I get to work with a bunch of great kids, coaches and players. We’ve been recruiting fantastically well for the first team. The timing’s not ideal by any means but everything’s in place. The Pumas are in a very good place and I’m very pleased with where I’m leaving them.”
He said he wants to still be involved with the team and help them any way he can over the next few weeks with the transition, noting that general manager Andrew Chapman and Nielsen have been in discussion over a potential partnership between both clubs.
“That would be great for us if we could create a friendship and then a partnership with Oklahoma,” he said. “If (Sporting) Kansas City comes in as well, that could be extra beneficial for our youth teams and they’ll have more avenues to move up the ladder even past the Pumas. I just think it’s a very exciting thing and I’m really excited to get to Oklahoma.”
As for who will fill his spots in the meantime, Ritchie said that Cammy MacDonald is named the interim director of coaching for the youth teams, while Matt Friesen takes temporary control of the indoor team.
“Cammy is a phenomenal coach – one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Ritchie said. “He’ll do an amazing job with the youth. I have every faith in him – he’s very organized, he’s an articulate young man and a great leader… Matt will be great. Everyone knows about Matt – he’s a great player, a winner and he understands the indoor game very well. I’ll have my fingers crossed that he will take them all the way through the playoffs.”
While there’s a bit of sadness for Ritchie that he is moving on, he’s got nothing but good times and memories of working for the Pumas. He said he’s also very thankful that he got the chance to work with many talented and dedicated people – from coaches like John Wedge, Pete Fewing, Andrew Chapman and Dustyn Brim (“He was my right hand man for so many years,” Ritchie said. “I love him to death.”) to the many talented players they’ve had the fortune of working with, like Taylor Hyde, Friesen, Dan Scott, Nik Besangno, Bryan Burke, Bryan Meredith, Kyle Johnson, Zac Lubin, Elliot Fauske, Steve Mohn and Zack Sampson, among many others, to the fans who have supported him and the club over the years and the parents who put so much time into supporting their children’s love of soccer.
“My parting words are it’s been an absolute honor to be the head coach of the Kitsap Pumas,” Ritchie said. “To just be involved in the club is an honor. And I cannot wait to see our youth players go to college and hopefully play for the first team. I cannot wait to see that.
“I will still be around,” he continued. “I’m excited to move to Oklahoma but I’m very sad about what I’m leaving behind. But I have every faith that the Pumas will go from strength to strength and things will get bigger and better and stronger.
“I’m excited to see the Pumas rise. And I can’t wait to come back here and see how they’ve moved on.”