A lifelong dream fulfilled

Assistant women’s soccer coach promoted to head of the men’s team

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor

New SPU Men’s Soccer interim head coach Kevin Sakuda. (Courtesy of Dan Lepse)

After a successful season that concluded with a win-loss record of 8-0-1, the Seattle Pacific University Women’s soccer team will be losing a vital part of their coaching staff, Kevin Sakuda. Sakuda was an assistant coach for the team, working under Arby Busey. 

Fortunately, he will not be leaving SPU anytime soon. Sakuda will instead move on to a higher position within the athletic department and finally fulfilling a lifelong goal. 

For the 2021-2022 season, Sakuda will be serving as the new Interim Head Coach of the Men’s Soccer team. He was offered the position by Athletic Director Jackson Stava after former Head Coach Mark Collings stepped down. Collings held the position for 13 seasons, where he led the men to two GNAC titles. 

Sakuda expressed how honored he was to take on the task of leading this team and his love for not only the athletics at SPU, but also the school in general. He is hoping to take his experiences as an assistant coach into his new position and continue to learn as he withholds the history and traditions of the men’s soccer team.

Sakuda loved his time working with the women’s team under Head Coach Arby Busey, but is excited for the new experiences working with the men will bring him. 

“It was extremely difficult telling the girls that I would be switching over.  It is an amazing group of women who are set up to do some really special things this year,” said Sakuda. “We speak all the time to the girls about being brave and playing with courage. This was the moment for me to do the same… to step into a new role and practice what I have been preaching.” 

Throughout his life, Sakuda has always loved soccer and made it his dream to someday become a head coach. His inspiration for wanting to teach sports came from the women in his family, who are all teachers.

“My mom and sisters are teachers, so in some ways I think that it was natural for me to go into that field. I’ve been involved in coaching at a variety of different levels but I’ve always been drawn to the college-age,” said Sakuda.

Before coaching was a part of his life, Sakuda played soccer professionally for many years for widely recognized teams, including the Seattle Sounders for six years. He eventually retired and turned his passion into a new career helping up-and-coming young athletes. 

In the upcoming season, Sakuda hopes to focus on the relationships within his team. His concentration this year will be on building trust within the team and himself. 

“My number one priority over the last few weeks has been to get to know the guys and for them to get to know me. As I said earlier, coaching is about relationships,” said Sakuda, “I think if we get those things right–our attitude and approach to training, competing everyday, being good teammates, and focusing on the things that are in our control–we are going to be in a very good place as a group.”

Coach Collings will be greatly missed by SPU and its athletes, but Sakuda is thankful for the support Collings has granted him as he attempts to fill his shoes. 

“Mark has been great. One of the things he told me was to just keep trusting myself. There are big shoes to fill but I have approached this whole situation knowing that I just need to be authentic to who I am.  I am really lucky to be stepping into a team of great people, fantastic assistant coaches, and some really strong senior leadership.”