When it comes to soccer — or just coaching in general — Milko Vasquez and Werner Christen certainly qualify as die-hards.
So, it should come as no surprise they will be on the sidelines this coming fall coaching soccer at Douglas High School — Vasquez as head coach of the boys program and Christen as head coach of the girls program.
Vasquez is returning for his second stint as a soccer coach at Douglas, since he coached with the boys for 11 years (six as head coach) before his retirement at the end of the 2010 season.
Christen is no stranger to Douglas athletics, since he already serves as head coach of the girls basketball program and has been involved as a coach with both girls and boys for 26 years. This will be the first time he has officially been involved as a soccer coach at Douglas, however, he has long been an avid supporter of both the girls and boys programs.
“I’m very passionate about the game. I love the kids in the program and I love the program,” Christen said. “It’s something I always sort of wanted to do.”
Vasquez began his career as a high school soccer coach in 1994 at Galt, Calif., moved to Nevada in 1999 to coach at Dayton High, then moved over to Douglas as an assistant to Phil Sheridan in 2000. He took the reins as head coach in 2005 and posted a 77-50-14 record in six seasons. During that time, the Tigers reached the region championship game three times and twice qualified for the state tournament. Douglas won the region title in 2007.
“It’s good to be back,” Vasquez said. “I’m at a point in my life where I miss coaching soccer. It’s in my blood, I guess. I’ve had a break for a couple of years now, but I’ve been doing it since I was 5.”
The positions were vacated by Vince Brown, who stepped in as head coach of the boys program in 2011, and Jenny Jaggard, who took over as coach for the girls last year after Lorraine Fitzhugh stepped down.
The Douglas boys finished 3-10-4 overall and out of the playoff picture with a roster that put a mix of young and old on the field — 11 seniors plus eight freshmen and sophomores. Vasquez is looking forward to seeing his “new team” on the field for the start of practice in August.
“I’ve gotten to know a few of the kids through class, but I haven’t seen them play,” he said. “I’m looking at this as a chance to start with a clean slate. I want to be impartial and even-keeled.”
Christen explained he was approached about the opportunity to coach soccer after the end of basketball season. After all, coaching one sport at a large division high school is a major undertaking. Coaching two major sports is almost unheard of in this day and age.
“This came out of the blue and I was asked if I was interested in the job,” he said. “I talked to a lot of people, people I respect, and looked at the pros and cons before I made my decision.
“It’s going to be a huge job doing both programs,” he added. “I’m very fortunate to have David Pfaffenberger running our summer AAU (basketball) program and the other people I work with in basketball. I wouldn’t be able to do this if not for all of them. I’m not doing this to be a one-year fill, either. I want to do a good job with both programs.”
His main objective?
“I’ve met with the kids and they’re excited,” he said. “I want it to be fun. Once the game starts, I’m going to be hands-off. It’s all about them. I want them to have fun out there.”
This is a coach who has taken soccer seriously ever since he was a child, all the way through his 1975 graduation from Whittell High School and later from the University of Nevada. Christen served as county recorder before his retirement in 2008. He started out as a deputy recorder and became the county’s records manager in 1979.
“I grew up loving soccer before basketball,” Christen said. “My family used to spend summers in Germany; my uncle took me to my first Bayern Munich game in 1963 and I’ve been a fan ever since. I used to come back with soccer balls and try to get the other kids to play this game where you can’t touch the ball with your hands.”