Paul Christensen has big ambitions as a soccer player. The WHS senior was one of 32 kids from around the country to compete in the US Soccer U-17 Residency Program in Florida, from 2011-13. Currently, he plays goalie for the Sounder Pre-Academy, and will be enrolling at the University of Portland this year on scholarship.
Due to an Academy rule, Christensen is not allowed to also play for Woodinville High School. But since last fall, he’s helped out as an assistant to Falcon head coach Nathan Davis. The two met in the physics class that Davis teaches, and when Davis offered a chance to coach the women’s team, Christensen jumped right in.
“I was nervous at first,” Davis said. “I was hoping that the girls would respond well to a peer and friend coaching them. It could not have been any better. The girls listened and in fact liked having Paul around and helping them. At the same time, Paul’s confidence as a coach grew.”
As winter turned to spring, Christensen helped coach the men’s team, and that proved to be an adjustment.
“With the guys, a lot of them are my friends, so it was weird for them and for me too,” Christensen said. “I wasn’t trying to go in there and seem like I knew more than everybody else. It was my first time coaching. I was learning along the way too. But one of the things about being keeper is that you see the whole field. You have to understand the game to play there. As a keeper you understand what everyone’s role is on the team. I was able to give advice in all spots instead of just the keeper position.”
As the men’s team tripled their win total from the previous year, Paul played a big role in tutoring his brother Ryan as the team goalie. Ryan had just won his second consecutive State title in wrestling, but had never played goalie before.
Paul and Ryan are very close, and the mentorship exceeded all expectations. By season’s end, Ryan was playing goalie like he’d been there for years. Paul cites the Redmond game as the best moment of the season.
“Late in the game, we were down 1-0 and then tied it up,” Paul said. “With 15 minutes left our team was pretty tired. And Redmond was getting a lot of shots off, into the top corner and bottom corner on breakaways, and they just couldn’t seem to beat Ryan. There was one save where a kid hit it and curled it into the top corner. And all of a sudden I see Ryan fly up and tip it over the bar. I didn’t think he was going to get to it...I was so impressed by that.”
After a crushing playoff loss to Garfield ended the season, Coach Davis reflected on what he appreciated about Paul Christensen.
“During games Paul would talk to players on the field, players on the bench, and would tell me what he was seeing,” Davis said. “I would bounce ideas off him, he would keep me calm, and we had a great time coaching together.”
To say Davis is excitable is to say Nascar racers drive rather fast. Christensen was asked to give an example of his calming effect upon the head coach.
“My parents instilled in me to not worry about things I can’t control,” he said. “So I have gotten to where I don’t react to questionable calls. When we were playing Garfield, the ref was just miserable. Davis yelled something at him, and the ref came running over. I came over and stood there and told Davis not to get thrown out. And then I just stood there just in case. Davis pushes the edge, but in a good way.”
Later this month and in July, Christensen’s Academy team will be in the playoffs. After three weeks of vacation, he’ll head to Portland in August to begin his collegiate career.
“I won’t have a lot of down time this summer, which I don’t really mind,” he said. “But things will happen pretty quick.”
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