Former assistant varsity coach Ben Bonser picked to replace former Huskies head coach Cody Hagler

Ben Bonser has been coaching soccer pretty much since the moment he graduated high school.

The North Marion Middle School Spanish and ELL teacher got his start as an assistant with his sister’s team the year after he graduated from Rainier High School and was immediately thrown into the fire.

“The coach got suspended for having an by: PHIL HAWKINS - New Husky varsity girls soccer head coach Ben Bonser was appointed after spending the past four years as a middle school, JV and assistant varsity coach in the North Marion School soccer practice,” Bonser said.

“It came up in the middle of the season and I ended up coaching the JV team as a recent graduate. So that was my first coaching experience.”

Since then, Bonser has continued building experience coaching as a head junior varsity and assistant varsity coach at Riverside and North Marion high schools in addition to coaching youths of various ages, but he’s never been in charge of a varsity program until now.

Bonser was recently tabbed as the North Marion girls soccer team’s head coach heading into the 2014 season.

“I’m excited,” Bonser said. “I’ve been looking forward to doing this. It’s been a goal of mine.”

The hire was one of the final moves by former North Marion Athletic Director Andy Jones, who officially left his post on June 30 to take the AD position in the Oregon City School District.

Bonser was chosen after spending the past four years coaching in the North Marion School District, starting in middle school and moving up through the JV and varsity programs.

“It’ll be kind of a unique experience,” Bonser said. “For this year’s seniors, it will be my fifth year coaching them. I’ve kind of moved up with them as a group.”

Bonser is the Huskies’ third coach in three years. He’s taking over for former girls soccer coach Cody Hagler, who resigned in June to move to Washington after coaching the team for a single season in 2013.

Hagler was a late-season hire to replace Manuel Martinez, who coached for three years before taking a full-time position in the North Clackamas School District just before the start of the fall season last year.

Bonser’s familiarity with his players will be a critical asset as the Huskies transition from the Tri-Valley Conference toward playing in the Oregon West Conference in August.

“Most of (the Oregon West) teams have been kind of in the middle, about where we’ve been,” Bonser said.

The Philomath Warriors loom as the top threat in North Marion’s new conference as the perennial conference champions.

The Warriors have advanced to the state finals twice in the past six years, winning the 4A state championship in 2011, but the Huskies’ former conference rivals were frequent flyers in the state playoffs as well.

“We’ve never played Philomath … but we’ve played Gladstone, La Salle and Molalla, so we’ve had some really tough teams in the past,” Bonser said.

In addition to the new league home, North Marion’s new skipper expects to shake up the team a bit to adjust for the personnel committed to play in the coming season.

“We’re going to flood the midfield a little bit — put five in the midfield and reduce defense to three,” he said.

“It seems counter-intuitive, but at the same time, those outside midfielders will be drafting back into defense, so we’ll actually have five in defense.”

With nearly two months before the start of the season, there’s plenty of time to prepare. Bonser is encouraging his girls to attend the annual Husky Boot Camp — a three-week athletic training course hosted by football coach Doug Bilodeau — before attending July soccer scrimmages.

Though the 2014 season hasn’t begun, Bonser can’t help but look forward to the 2015 season to see how the group of seventh-graders he coached when he first came to North Marion will have advanced as athletes and adults over the past half-dozen years.

“Next year, I’ll have coached them for six years in a row,” he said.

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