New Kiski Area boys soccer coach embraces teaching the game
Sean Arnold's abundance of soccer instincts allowed him to earn playing time at every position on the field, including goaltender, during his four-year career at Robert Morris.
Now Arnold, a 1998 Kiski Area graduate, will get to survey a soccer field from another new vantage point: that of coach for the Cavaliers.
An assistant at Kiski Area the past six seasons, Arnold honed his teaching skills as earnestly as he once refined his on-field abilities. The reward for his commitment materialized in mid-June: Arnold was approved by the school board as the team's new coach.
Arnold, 34, succeeds Bob Wright, who stepped down after 14 seasons, during which Kiski Area went 140-92-12 and made the playoffs nine times.
“I just felt that I knew so much when I got out of college that I needed to get that knowledge to the high school players four years earlier than I got it,” Arnold said. “I wanted to give them an opportunity to see and do what I did, if they wanted to go that route.”
What Arnold did at RMU might go down as one of the more unusual careers in the school's history. Recruited as a defender after playing that position for the oft-celebrated Beadling Soccer Club, Arnold saw plenty of time at left back. But injuries and personnel shuffling also allowed to him appear at forward and central midfield, his preferred position. And in one game in his senior season in 2002, Arnold made five saves and allowed four goals in a loss at Duquesne.
He finished his college career with 10 goals and six assists in 52 appearances.
When he became involved with Kiski Area soccer, he marveled at the progress made by the program. During his playing days, few if any other Cavaliers belonged to Cup teams. The Cavaliers lacked depth in general. But as an assistant, he watched dozens of players, including many who played soccer year-round, turn out for practices.
From the start, Arnold wanted to wow the young Cavaliers with his understanding of the game. He just had to figure out how to convey things that were so clear in his head.
“My first year, getting into it, I was cocky,” Arnold said. “I thought I knew everything about soccer, so I knew how to coach. Then I realized there's a learning curve on how to coach. Just because I know the game doesn't mean I can coach it.
“So Bob, that first year, helped me learn how to get to that level where I could actually explain something and coach it rather than just knowing what to do.”
As the years proceeded, Wright gave more day-to-day coaching responsibilities to Arnold.
“He understood playing the game, but it was necessary for a while for him to develop his own style and approach on how to teach the game,” Wright said. “I knew a time was coming when I'd step away from such an active role in the game, and I wanted to be sure Kiski Area soccer was in a position to be able to move on to the next generation.”
While Arnold provides Kiski Area continuity and familiarity, he also brings levels of intensity and discipline that might require the Cavaliers to brace themselves.
“Sean brings a very strong passion in his approach,” Wright said. “He can be more demanding and more critical. Because I had him there, I could be a little more analytical and patient when I was the coach.”