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Rebekah Kurle hired to lead Scappoose girl's soccer

JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Rebekah Kurle talks with her new team after a training session on Wednesday, Aug. 12. The position is Kurle's first head coaching job.On a Saturday in early November of last fall, there was a passing of the torch at the University of Portland, though no one knew it at the time.

Former Scappoose star Ariel Viera, playing for the Pilots, scored in the final game of the season against Gonzaga. Late in the contest, senior midfielder Rebekah Kurle converted a penalty kick to put Portland up 3-0.

It was the first goal of Viera's career and the last goal for Kurle. Now, Kurle will take over as the head coach for Viera's former team.

Kurle's hiring as the new Scappoose girls' soccer coach is the conclusion of a nine-month saga following the resignation of former coach Nicholas Heffernan. Scappoose athletic director Robert Medley announced Heffernan's resignation in December 2014 and said he hoped to have a coach hired soon afterward. Scappoose unofficially hired Chris Dorough in late April, but Dorough backed out of the job for unknown reasons in the next few weeks.

July rolled around and there still wasn't a coach in place, and several Scappoose players began attending training sessions with the St. Helens girls' team. On Aug. 4, Scappoose invited players and parents to a meet-and-greet with Kurle, and light training is now underway.

And the way Kurle tells it, she has felt right at home.

“[Viera] talks so highly of Scappoose and I never doubted her,” Kurle said. “When I got here, I was welcomed with open arms. Everyone was so nice and very helpful. I like it. [University of Portland] is small, my high school was small, my town is pretty small. Everyone knows everyone, and I kind of like that feeling. It makes it feel like the community's backing us, too.”

Kurle grew up in the Seattle area and was named the Washington Player of the Year in 2009 at Kennedy High School. She began play for the Pilots in 2011, starting in 13 matches and making the league's all-freshman team.

In 2012, Kurle started 20 games and scored four goals — two game winners, according to the Pilots' website — and made another 19 starts the next season as a holding midfielder, an important position which anchors the field just ahead of the defensive line.

The number one thing about Kurle, according to Pilots' head coach Garrett Smith, was her passion for the game. As a freshman, she said her 'spirit animal' was a tiger, a reflection of her attitude on the field. Smith agreed, saying Kurle came into the program as a pure athlete and her passion will translate well to her role as a coach.

Kurle describes herself as being defensively minded, especially due to her height and four years as a holding midfielder, but Smith says their philosophy at the University of Portland is to have all their players learn the game and become familiar with the entire system. The knowledge and experience combine well with her strong work ethic, Smith said.

Now, Kurle steps into a well-developed program with a state championship in 2013 and a semifinals appearance in 2014. Two players, seniors Lucy Davidson and Natalie Muth, are set to play for the University of Portland next fall.

Both are already familiar with Kurle as an assistant with their FC Portland club team, which is how Kurle caught wind of the job. The pair had come to head coach Miguel Guante, concerned about the coaching vacancy in Scappoose, and Guante passed the word on to Kurle. The 22-year-old hesitated at applying because of her age, but eventually found herself in charge of one of the more loaded girls' soccer programs in the Class 4A division.

“I knew that coming in,” Kurle said. “I actually had a conversation with the upperclassmen last week, and they were able to give me some real insight on what they thought — not the issues they had last season for why they didn't make it past the semis, but some of the things they needed to focus on.”

Effort during games and practices, and focus early in matches were some of the things the group talked about. Kurle said she understood how talented the team was on day one, and that her job will be to fine-tune things instead of making major changes.

Passion, though, is something she'll definitely instill in the players, according to Smith.

“Those were their concerns, and those are things that are in my coaching philosophy,” Kurle said. “It kind of feels like a really good fit automatically when I met the girls. Coming in, I know they're talented so I know I have big shoes to fill.”

Full practices can officially begin on Aug. 17, and the first match is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5 against Brookings-Harbor at Pleasant Hill High School.

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