Rifle High School welcomes new boys soccer coach
RIFLE, Colorado – Ryan Mahler knows he won’t field a winning team right off the bat.He’s applying a longer-term approach to his new job as Rifle High School’s boys soccer coach. “Going into the season, we’ll obviously be underdogs. I’ve done some research on the past couple seasons,” said Mahler, approved as the program’s new frontman at last week’s Garfield Re-2 school board meeting. “Within a year or two, or three, I want to change the mentality. When people hear they’ve got to play Rifle High School, I want them to dread playing us. That’s the mentality I want to see. We’ll take it one step at a time, one game at a time.”That’s the mentality that Mahler, who won high school and club state championships growing up in northern Idaho, and the teams he played in during his younger days used to their advantage.The first thing he did after receiving word he’d been chosen for the Rifle job was call his former high school coach at Sandpoint High School and pick his brain.”I’ve been talking to my high school coach two times a week,” said Mahler, who went on to play collegiately at Concordia University in Portland, Ore., after graduating from high school in 2001. “We’ve just been going over stuff with formations, different techniques.”Mahler will base his coaching approach in fitness, something he pushed hard to athletic director Mike Green in the interview process. “I told Mike that our players might not be the best, but I guarantee we’ll be the most fit,” Mahler explained. “That’s one thing I believe in strongly. You train hard the first two weeks of preseason and you don’t have the nagging injuries or the bumps and bruises. The better shape you’re in, overall you’ll perform better.”Taking over a team that went 4-10-1 in 2007 and is on its third coach in as many seasons, there’s no denying Mahler has a rebuilding project on his hands with the Class 4A Western Slope League team.And Mahler says he’s in it for the long haul. The utility line worker just moved to Glenwood Springs two months ago, and his wife gave birth to a baby girl on July 12.”I told Mike I’ve heard there’s been a couple coaches here and there, coming and going,” he said. “I told him I’ll be around here for a few years. I just got my family moved here last week. It’s pretty crazy. This is something I’ll build on. Hopefully we’ll be really competitive.”Green’s confident Mahler can get the job done.”I think he’ll do a good job for us,” said the Bears’ AD. “He’s young and enthusiastic, and he’s excited about it. I think he’ll be a good, quality coach. He brings a lot of expertise.”
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.