Kwalikum Secondary School’s Centre for Soccer Excellence will be welcoming a new face to their program, starting this upcoming school year.
Chris Merriman, of the Merriman soccer family out of Nanaimo, will join the ranks as a coach at the KSS Centre for Soccer Excellence starting this month.
Merriman, a former Simon Fraser University Clansmen, has spent time playing the beautiful game in Europe with EIF Ekenas Football Club (Finland), as well as playing for the Mid Isle Highlanders here on Vancouver Island.
“We’re very pleased to have Chris coming on board with us,” KSS Athletic Director Butch Gayton said. “Chris brings a wealth of knowledge in the game of soccer to our program and I think he’s going to be a great fit here.”
“He’s had a ton of experience, both as a player and a coach, so it’s going to be a great learning experience for our students.”
Merriman, who’s father Bill coaches the VIU Mariners men’s soccer team, recently spent time as an assistant in 2014 with the Mariners, which saw that team finish second at the national championships.
He’s also been one of the head coaches, along with his brothers James and Tyler, at the Merriman Soccer Academy.
“It’s nice because the kids know who Chris is,” Gayton said. “He’s coming into this program after playing locally and having success both nationally and internationally too.”
“Lots of our athletes know Chris from his days as a member of the Highlanders club so it’s cool to have the kids respect him from that point of view, not only as a teacher and coach but for what he’s done on the field as a player too.”
The Centre for Soccer Excellence is in its third year and the numbers in the program are still growing. It gives students a chance to learn the ins and outs of the game on an entirely different level, from managing the strength and conditioning side of things off the field to the product on the field.
“We’ve been having good success each year,” Gayton said. “We’ve got international students that are coming here interested in the program, a good mixture of boys and girls of all different ages and skill levels that are excited to learn things here in the Centre for Soccer Excellence. We’re just really happy that it’s been such a hit with the students here and continues to grow each year.”
With former coach and teacher Shel Brodsgaard leaving to pursue another career, the opening came and Merriman was the right candidate for the position.
“It just makes sense,” Gayton said. “His ties to VIU, his ties to the Mid Isle Highlanders, we’ve had players come through KSS that have gone on to play at VIU and have played for the Highlanders as well. Shel was great for us and we loved having him here, sadly for us he had another career opportunity that was too good to pass up so that left a vacancy for us to fill and luckily for us, we found Chris.”