If new boys soccer coach Kambiz Vatan has a question about his team, he doesn't need to look far for someone to ask. Paul Austin, who held the post for 11 years before is Vatan's teammate in the New England Over-the-Hill Soccer League.
Vatan and Austin are also both coaches at Arlington High School — Vatan is a math teacher and boys volleyball coach at the school, while Austin will lead the girls soccer program.
But Vatan might not need any advice about his new surroundings. He previously spent seven years at Winchester as an assistant girls soccer coach, and unlike most new coaches, he isn't coming into a rebuilding program. In fact, the Sachems are coming off one of the best seasons in their nearly 50-year history.
Last year the Sachems for the first time in more than a decade and finished the regular season undefeated for the first time in the program's history, outscoring opponents 62-9. Winchester , falling 2-1 in overtime to defending state champion Concord-Carlisle. But Vatan is quick to point out that last year's results don't mean much.
"This is not a professional team that you keep your players," Vatan said. "Last year is last year, and this year there's a whole bunch of brand new players."
While Vatan hasn't had a chance to see his team in action yet — tryouts start next Thursday — he's excited to take control of the successful program.
"They're all very dedicated and hard workers," Vatan said. "Hopefully we take advantage of the fact that the culture is here and they're soccer players. For some kids, when the season ends they don't kick a soccer ball until next year. These kids work hard to get ready for next year."
Vatan saw the Sachems face Arlington in the Division II North semifinals last year. He left to go to his son's birthday with the Spy Ponders ahead 1-0, but
"That's the beauty of this game," Vatan said. "It has no mercy. It keeps it challenging. That's why I want to teach more than soccer because this game is about tactical, physical, but most important mental. The mental part is always the one that breaks down in the last 15 minutes."
Vatan grew up in Iran but came to Massachusetts to study at Northeastern. He didn't play soccer so he could focus on his studies (he has a masters degree in civil engineering), but he started coaching youth soccer when his two children, a son and a daughter who are both currently in college, took up the sport.
Vatan, who left Winchester to take over the girls soccer program at Arlington Catholic, isn't concerned about transitioning back to boys soccer."I've coached all different ages, both girls and boys," Vatan said.