Sommer Mahoney '11 Named Head Coach for Girls' Soccer
The top position for the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Girls’ Soccer program is staying in the family.
Sommer Mahoney ’11, a former player and assistant coach for the Titans, took over at the end of the season as head coach after Don Nicholson ’79 retired after a remarkable 25-year run.
Coach Nicholson asked Coach Mahoney in October if she would be interested in the head coaching position. After withstanding the initial shock of hearing Coach Nicholson wasn’t returning to the sidelines, and then some back-and-forth conversation, Coach Mahoney agreed to the position.
Coach Mahoney, a faculty member in the History & Global Studies Department who served as the team’s assistant coach the last four seasons, played soccer at Sarah Lawrence College in New York after her career as a Titan.
Ms. Mahoney on being named head coach: “I’m really excited. When he first told me he was stepping down and then told me he wanted me to replace him, I was in shock. Since I’ve known him for so long and since I’ve been part of this program for so long and I understand his legacy, it was a little intimidating to me and I wasn’t sure I trusted anyone to carry this program on other than him, but I trust Don enough that if he thinks I can do it, then I have to trust that I can because he has faith in me.”
Ms. Mahoney on Mr. Nicholson serving as a mentor: “I’ve learned so much being Don’s assistant coach – the balance between how to manage emotions as a coach. As a player, I would get lost in the game; as a coach, you don’t have that luxury. You’re just watching; I feel so many things when I’m standing on the sidelines, from elation to frustration to rage. Don has taught me so much how to channel that and to make it productive, and that has translated into every aspect of my life here as a teacher, as a dorm parent – just recognizing what I’m feeling and deciding if it is a good emotion to implement at that time with teenagers I’m working with.”
Ms. Mahoney on her team-first approach: “Soccer to me is all about teamwork and going out onto a field and trying to accomplish something. No goal is ever scored by one individual player, and no goal is ever allowed because of one individual player. I firmly believe that. We’re all working together toward something common. That’s important for creating genuine relationships and creating pride in yourself and in something bigger than yourself.”
Ms. Mahoney on being prepared to take over as head coach: “I’ve know Don for years and years. I’ve learned so much from him about self-control and the game, but the freedom that he’s given me to train the goalies, and the way he’s been mentoring me and making sure I’m always having opportunities to get better as a coach, has been essential to my success and I think the reason why he feels confident in me and why I feel confident in me. Even though I didn’t know it, he’s been giving me opportunities for years now to see and feel out how my coaching style will be.”
Mr. Nicholson on Ms. Mahoney becoming head coach of WMA Girls’ Soccer: “I was so pleased that Sommer Mahoney agreed to become the new Head Coach of the Girls' Varsity Soccer team. Not only is she a graduate of our school, but she has also been my right arm during her time as my assistant coach. Sommer understands the game of soccer and has a tremendous capacity to understand the needs of the modern student-athlete. Sommer is compassionate and flexible, yet firm and structured enough to manage the complexities of coaching a varsity team. We have worked closely together over the years and she knows what it takes to organize and run practices, manage a game and create a team atmosphere among the players. As I step down from coaching this team, I know the history and legacy of the Girls' Varsity Soccer program will be secure under the leadership of this outstanding young woman.”