With new coach Birds look for same success

VOORHEESVILLE — A new coach, but the same old expectations.

Willie Sanchez takes over as the new coach of the varsity boys’ soccer team at Voorheesville, replacing Michael Young who left to become an assistant women’s soccer coach at the Albany College of Pharmacy. Young coached the Blackbirds for the past two fall seasons.

On a hot Friday afternoon, Sanchez was coaching a plethora of players returning from a team that advanced to the Section II Class B semifinals last year and played in the finals two years ago. Voorheesville won the sectional title in 2004.
"We have a lot of experienced guys," Sanchez said. "We have a lot of good young players. It’s pretty exciting. We have a bright future; I’m glad to be a part of it."

Sanchez said 10 players will be returning this fall. A lot of those players are juniors this year.
"It’s not just going to be this year," Sanchez said. "But it’s going to be an ongoing thing."

"A good foundation"

Sanchez comes to Voorheesville after coaching the junior-varsity team at Bethlehem, one of the most successful large-school soccer programs in the area. He also coached in the Bethlehem youth soccer program.

Sanchez has a connection to Voorheesville.
"My father coached here — basketball and soccer," he said. "There was a good foundation here."

His father, Bill Silverman, coached in Voorheesville during the 1990s and helped establish the Blackbirds among the better small-school teams in Section II.
"This is my first head coaching position," Sanchez said. "I always helped out with varsity and all levels of club for 10 years."

Sanchez also wants to work with the younger kids in Voorheesville and New Scotland, he said, which will help keep the high school program strong.
"I want to get involved with the club," Sanchez said. "I want to start from the bottom up and work with the real young kids."

Sanchez has been playing since he was a young kid and has a life-long love of the sport.
"I’ve played since I was 4 years old," he said. "I hit a point in my life when I was done playing that I missed the game."

Sanchez went to Bethlehem High School and then to the University at Albany. He has been coaching 12 years. He coached for one season at the Academy of Holy Names, the all-girls Catholic school in Albany. The rest of the time, he has been at Bethlehem.
"I got into coaching and went from there," Sanchez said. "I got my coaching license and kept working at it. I want to get better as a coach."

Sanchez might have gotten the coaching bug early in life, learning from his father.
"I used to come down with my father to practices," he said. "I’m familiar with Voorheesville."

Long-term goals

Sanchez sees his first opportunity as a head coach as being a good one.
"We have a lot of guys coming back," he said. "Most of them are juniors, so we’ll be a fairly young team. We also have a lot of good sophomores and freshmen. We’ll keep going for the next couple of years. Hopefully, I’ll get to work with the club and increase the numbers that like to play soccer here."

Two of the key returning players are junior goalkeeper Lee Fenner and junior Ryan Dimmit.
"He has played for a long time," Sanchez said of Fenner. "He’s exceptional. He’s a [Olympic Development] Region 1 goalkeeper.
"Ryan Dimmit is an excellent leader," Sanchez said. "He works hard and is a good role model. Guys look up to him."

Sanchez said that Kevin Van de Wende and Drew Altieri are another pair of good young players. Joe Cillis and Ryan Jones are also young players capable of playing key roles.

The Blackbirds have some pretty modest goals, as they continue to strive to be one of the better teams in the Colonial Council and, this year, in Class C.
"We want to be competitive," Sanchez said. "We can play for a sectional title. With the experience we have as a group, that is one of our goals. I want to create a tradition of expecting to play for the Colonial Council and the Section II title."

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