Magruda loves coaching — in any language
Ashley Magruda might want to invest some money into Google stock, specifically Google Translate.
The Belle Vernon Area and Cal U graduate has moved on to Lima, Ohio, where she's in her first year as an assistant women's soccer coach at the University of Northwestern Ohio.
Magruda and the Racers will be leaving for Orange Beach, Ala., early Thursday morning en route to the NAIA women's soccer tournament, where they've advanced to the Sweet 16.
The Racers (19-1-1) are the No. 5 seed and will take on No. 12 The Master's (Calif.) (13-5-1) at 4 p.m. Monday at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
UNOH is a unique team, which is what attracted Magruda to the job after applying at a number of schools.
Of the 20 players on the varsity roster, only two are from the United States.
“It's a very unique experience. ... I wanted something that pushed me out of my comfort zone,” Magruda said with a laugh. “It's really crazy, I wanted something different. At first, I was on the sidelines trying to Google Translate everything. You had players speaking Spanish, Swedish ... it was a little nuts.”
The team is comprised of four British players, three from Finland, two each from Sweden and France, and one each from New Zealand, Czech Republic, Scotland, Spain, Croatia, Germany and Netherlands.
“To see all these kids in Lima and see how they've all really bonded with each other is really exciting,” Magruda said.
Magruda, 23, helped lead the Vulcans to PSAC titles in 2011 and 2013, as well as runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2012. In 2013, she was MVP of the PSAC Tournament. She registered eight shutouts and was at the top of the PSAC with a .285 goals against average.
Her journey into coaching is no surprise to her former coach at BVA.
“She's a great kid, ... well, woman now,” Paul Sasko said of his former goalkeeper. “I coached her for five years and I used to joke with her that she was going to take my job one day. She's always had the work ethic and has great soccer sense.
“She's a very hard worker in practice and in games. You always knew that she was going to succeed no matter what she did.”
Magruda oversees the goalkeepers and defense for the Racers. Her bond with goalie Nadine Stonjek is undeniable, as Stonjek's performance reminds Magruda of her younger self.
“She's broken the conference record for shutouts and she's vying to be number one in the history of NAIA,” Magruda said of the sophomore. “Goalkeeping is my ultimate passion; it has been since I was a kid. I use my experiences and how I used to fix my mistakes and I coach Nadine off of that.
“It's been great having consistent success throughout my career as a player and now a coach.”
With her experience, Magruda knows Stonjek isn't achieving her success by herself.
“Our back line is a special group,” Magruda said. “Our head coach (Stuart Gore) is a very seasoned coach. He's very tactical in his approach ... an offensive mastermind. So practicing against him every day helps. We've worked very well together.”
With the Racers advancing to the national tournament, Magruda has turned to her college experience to prepare her players.
“Every game at Cal and every season, you had a lot of times that you had to grind through games,” she said. “I learned how to do that there and it's really made a difference now. A lot of times we're up 1-0 or 2-0, I've experienced that for so many years at Cal.
“And especially now because tournament play is a different game. That's what I've taken away the most from my playing days and it's helping the girls win games.”
Magruda couldn't ask for a better experience in her first season on a college sideline.
“We're definitely off to a good start,” she said. “It's really exciting.”
Magruda is the daughter of Ed and Tara Magruda of Rostraver.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.