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WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Mike Washington, a native of London, England, brings a lifetime of soccer experience to his role as men's soccer coach at Whitman College.
Washington, a player and coach in the highly competitive English club ranks during the 1970s, moved to the Seattle, Wash., area, in 1981. He then worked for the Washington State Youth Soccer Association and coached at a handful of high schools and Bellevue Community College. He has also been active in the Olympic Development Program, serving as a coach at the district, state and regional levels.
Washington came to Whitman in August, 1998, intent on taking the men's soccer program to a higher level. "I am very excited about the opportunity here at Whitman," Washington said at the time. "I have the chance to bring mental toughness, discipline, pride and a strong work ethic to an already good program. I would hope in the next few years that we can turn Whitman into a very competitive force that teams fear to play."
Washington said he expects his teams to work from a "strong fitness base, so we can eliminate mental breakdowns and keep from beating ourselves. We will be organized and disciplined. We will respect our opponents and each other.
"We also want to have a strong defensive base from which we can attack, and we want players who are committed to a sense of team unity," Washington added. "This will bring us the results that derive from hard work."
Scott Shields, director of soccer and coach of the women's soccer program at Whitman, said the school is fortunate to have hired a coach with such an extensive background.
"Mike has lived around soccer his entire life," Shields said. "He probably knows the game as well as anyone can. When you grow up in a country where soccer is the national sport, you learn 1,000 times as much about the game as you would growing up in the U.S.
"Plus, Mike has accumulated a tremendous amount of coaching experience with different programs, age groups and situations since moving to this country," Shields said. "I've worked with Mike in the Olympic Development Program for the past year, and I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and person. He is very excited about this opportunity to coach at the collegiate level."
Washington has worked for the Washington State Youth Soccer Association since the mid-1980s, conducting numerous camps, clinics and coach licensing programs. Prior to Whitman, he also worked full-time for two years as director of coaching for the Northshore Youth Soccer Association, which is based in Woodinville, Wash., and has responsibility for 1,000 coaches and 6,000 players ranging in age from six to 18 years. Northshore is one of 50 local youth soccer associations within the state organization.
Washington has been active in the Olympic Development Program for the past 10 years, serving as a coach at the district and state level for players between the ages of 14 and 19. He also has helped select and coach regional teams since 1993.
From 1985 through 1995, Washington coached boys and girls teams at Bellevue, Hazen, Redmond and Lakeside high schools in the Seattle. His teams qualified for the state playoffs on five occasions, and he was coach of the year one season with the Hazen High School boys team.
Washington's grown daughter, Sarah, played for her father when he was coaching the girls team at Hazen. He also coached the men's soccer team in 1991 at Bellevue Community College.
Washington's own playing career began in earnest at age 14 when his family was living in southwest England, near the city of Bristol. He and his friends formed the Ellenboro Football Club and his father, Roy, was the first coach.
Most English football clubs are financed by business interests, and the larger clubs support several teams ranging from youth to adult. Older players, who are paid, also help coach the younger teams.
When he was 24, Washington transferred to the Worlebury Southside Football Club, where he played for nine more years. He was a player-coach his last two seasons. He was a midfielder and forward for most of his playing career, and he earned individual awards that ranged from leading scorer to most valuable players. "As a team, we enjoyed many successes, winning our league cup on more than occasion," he said.
Before moving to Seattle in 1981, Washington had the chance to work as a player scout for Coventry City, which plays in the English Premier Division and whose history as a football club dates back to 1883.
Washington also earned his English Football Association Coaching Badge before moving to the U.S. Since then, he had added the U.S. Soccer Federation's "A", "B" and "C" licenses to his coaching credentials. The "A" license entitles him to coach at the collegiate, professional and Olympic Development levels.
Washington and wife Susan, who has a degree in interior design from Filton Art College near Bristol, England, live in Walla Walla. His parents, Roy and Elsie Washington, who moved to the U.S. in 1977, also live in Walla Walla.
In addition to his coaching duties at Whitman, Washington lectures in the Department of Sport Studies, Recreation and Athletics. He also serves as director of intramural and club sports at Whitman.