It’s a common refrain in soccer circles: Goalkeepers often make the best coaches. That maxim holds true with Woodinville’s hire of Andrew Croft as its new girls soccer coach.
The 30-year old once played goalie for Inglemoor High School, before starring at Pacific Lutheran University from 2006-2009. After graduating with a B.A., Croft played professional indoor soccer for the Tacoma Stars/Galaxy in the Premier Arena Soccer League. He also worked for the Seattle Sounders and Seattle Reign. His many coaching stops include Bellevue College, Bellevue High School, Nathan Hale, Bothell High School, Southern Oregon University and China.
Simply put, soccer has always been prominent in his life.
“I was a big soccer, basketball and baseball fan growing up,” Croft said. “Starting at age 15, I played soccer every day and trained every day. As a goalkeeper I got to watch everything. I saw how players move and saw how teams respond to situations. You definitely see a lot of ex-goalkeepers who become some of the better coaches out there. From [that vantage point on the field], you have a real good edge in being able to see the entire field.”
A fascinating time for him came in 2015. That’s when he traveled to Shanghai, China to work with RSports and Nike in an effort to bring soccer into grade schools.
“China was absolutely incredible,” Croft said. “I got to work with coaches from all over the world. Spain, England, Germany. I had an interpreter so that was a fun experience. Having to coach through a guy, telling him what to tell the kids. Chinese physical education is a bit more militant. They stand in four lines, do some jumping jacks, do some arm movements. We introduced soccer into their physical education classes.”
And how did the Chinese respond?
“Suddenly there’s this white guy who didn’t speak the language and with a smile on his face,” Croft said. “And the kids went crazy. They wanted to run around. After they experienced their freedom for the first time, they settled down and began to see how soccer can influence their life both on the pitch and off the pitch as well.”
Croft returned to the United States in the spring of 2016, as an assistant coach at Southern Oregon University. It was a challenging time as he went through a divorce. He found Ashland to be a good place to clear his head and gain perspective. He then returned home last fall to the Northshore to work at a tech company while serving as an assistant coach at Bothell High School.
When the Woodinville job opened up last spring, Croft applied for it and was hired. He was also simultaneously hired as the boys soccer coach for North Creek High School.
But his focus right now is on the upcoming season for his new Lady Falcon squad.
“I hope to grow the cul-ture and community and get people around Woodinville excited about this soccer team,” he said. “We have an amazing group of athletes. Some outstanding ladies who work hard and are dedicated to playing a sport that they love.”