Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Who we remember

SPU coaches remember past athletes
Nik Reierson looks on as the mens soccer team warms up ahead of their game against Athletic Bilbao C at Lezama on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in Bilbao, Spain.

At Seattle Pacific University, the Athletics Department has a long legacy consisting of several decades, and coaches from every team have watched players come and go. Over that time, some of these athletes have made a great impression on the coaches.

Arby Busey has served as the head coach position of the women’s soccer team since 2015 after serving as an assistant women’s soccer coach from 2006 to 2014. He noted how difficult it is for a coach to single out a player as a “favorite.”

“We’ve had such a rich history; it gets to be difficult to pick favorites. I think, in some ways, it’s asking a parent who their favorite kid is,” Busey stated. “But, I mean, we’ve had some who have been extremely influential on the soccer field.”

Among recent players, Busey specifically mentioned midfielder Makena Rietz and forwards Sofia Chilczuk and Sophie Beadle, all of whom were all-Americans who played their final season in the 2020s. Among past players, he mentioned athletes on the championship-winning 2008 team, such as forward Jocelyn Charette and midfielder/defender Meredith Teague. 

Busey also shared an anecdote about how Janie Wurth, a freshman defender in 2008, stepped up and helped the team win the semifinal game and get to the championship.

“I can remember sitting on the field at halftime and our starting center back, who I believe that year was an All-American, says to me: ‘Look, I can’t play the second half,’” Busey recalled. “But in that moment a freshman who’s now playing on a team that is pretty mature … went in, played unbelievable in the second half of that game, and helped us to win that game, by being ready, by being prepared, by not having that moment put her in awe.”

Kevin Sakuda, the coach of the men’s soccer team, has not had nearly as long of a career as Busey, having been with the team for just three years. Yet already, many players have made a great impression on him.

“2021 had a special senior class. I think we had a lot of success that year and we attributed a lot of that to that class. They were all very good leaders and they led uniquely to who they were,” Sakuda said. 

Sakuda mentioned defender Nik Reierson, a senior in 2021, as someone who stuck out to him.

“Reierson was a guy that was just a very good kind of servant leader in some ways, he put the team first, he had a ton of discipline in how he trained, how he prepared. He was a guy that we kept on staff for a couple years after to continue to help out and be of support to the program,” Sakuda noted. “So he was a guy that I always think about in terms of, you know, when we’re trying to help our current group become better leaders.”

Keffrey Fazio is in his first year as head coach of the SPU men’s basketball team after having spent four years on the team as an assistant coach. He pointed out guard Harry Cavell, who was top ten in the school at both scoring and rebounds, as someone who made a big impact. Fazio also brought up guards Divant’e Moffitt, Chris Penner and Sharif Khan as past difference-makers.

In addition, Fazio mentioned forward Mehdi El Mardi as a player who excelled both on and off the court.

“Mehdi El Mardi is a guy that spent three years here and is just an unbelievable person. A really dedicated, high achieving student-athlete,” Fazio said. “He double majored in his time with two masters programs, just a high-level student-athlete, and on top of that, he is just the best person, very friendly, a great friend, and just a ton of energy, a ton of joy.”

Ultimately, what makes a memorable player is not just their on-field performance, but their attitude and personality.

“The exemplary teammate, the consummate teammate, the one who’s going to be so sacrificial for their teammates that it makes any team that they’re a part of better,” Busey said.

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Callaghan Bluechel, Staff Writer
Rio Giancarlo, Chief Photographer
Rio is a sophomore visual communication major with a minor in photography. Rio manages a team of photographers and illustrators to supply content for the greater SPU media groups. Before he took his current position he worked as a staff photographer, mostly covering sports. When not working for The Falcon he works for the SPU athletic department and as a freelance photographer. In his free time you can find him skiing, or wishing he was skiing. 
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