Monday, July 22, 2024

Kirtland tabs Josh Sladick to take over storied soccer program

For the first time in 20 years, Kirtland’s storied girls’ soccer team will have a new head coach.

Josh Sladick was tabbed by the school to take over for Ed Bradac, who stepped down after last season.

“When I initially got the job offered to me, I couldn’t say yes quick enough,” Sladick said. “I was chomping at the bit to get in front of the girls and introduce myself and start getting to know them.”

Sladick has big shoes to fill in replacing Bradac, who took over the third-year program in 2004 and turned it into a state powerhouse.

Under Bradac, the Hornets won 64 percent of their games (247-97-42) and won the 2020 Division III state championship. In addition to that state title, the Hornets won five regional titles and competed in three state championship games.

“Kirtland is doing something right,” Sladick said. “They won a state title, and now that we’re going to be playing in Division V, I know we’re able to compete with a lot of those schools and my expectations are really high.”

Sladick has spent the last 16 years on the sidelines at various schools.

After graduating from Twinsburg High School, Sladick played three seasons at Baldwin Wallace before starting his coaching career as an assistant at Hawken.

Sladick spent six years as the head boys’ coach at Kenston and recently was an assistant coach for the girls’ team at Beachwood for two seasons and he spent a year as an assistant girls’ coach at Medina. He also has coached with various club programs in Northeast Ohio, working with both the boys’ and girls’ teams.

“I was an integrated social studies major, so the natural progression was always getting a teaching job and then starting coaching,” Sladick said. “I had always been interested in working with the youth. My mom’s side of the family are all teachers, so going into the teaching profession and coaching are very much one and the same for me. From there, coaching opportunities came along and got me to where I am now.”

Sladick knows reaching the pinnacle of the sport—winning another state title—won’t come easily, but he’s hoping to hit the ground running and to prepare the Hornets to maximize their potential on the pitch.

“I saw the girls play in their first summer league match last week and there is a lot of talent there, not just in our upperclassmen, but with our underclassmen as well,” he said. “The senior leadership is phenomenal. They’ve really taken that senior role to heart because they understand that this is their chance to make an impression not just on me but also on the program. They want to take it to the next level. Ed got the ball rolling and got the program to where it is today, and we’re trying to limit the plateau effect. We’re going to kick it up a notch, just like Emeril Lagasse would say.”

As the new head coach, Sladick will run the program as he sees fit, but he does plan to follow much of Bradac’s recipe for success.

“What he did was he got the community to buy into the program,” Sladick said of Bradac. “There are a lot of girls in our middle school program, and we’ve got a very good number of girls who are actually playing club soccer which, as I explained to (Kirtland athletic director) Matt Paul during our interview, there aren’t a lot of girls from these small schools that are playing club soccer. Normally, you just get a lot of girls who are very athletic to go out for soccer because they’re getting ready for basketball or track or whatever, but what we have at Kirtland is we’ve got some soccer players. That’s what Ed started and I’m going to kind of piggyback off of that and add to it.”

As Bradac did, Sladick will lean heavily on his defense to set the tone for the Hornets.

Sladick started his soccer career as a goalkeeper before moving to defense and midfield.

“I’m very much a build out of the back guy,” he said. “I’m a defender at heart, so the way I see the game is very much defense first because defense wins championships. Everyone talks about scoring goals, but if we’re struggling to score goals, we better not be giving them up, so we have to have our defense lock it up and be able to possess out of the back.”

Kirtland scored just 22 goals last season while allowing 23.

Turning that goal differential around will be a focus for Sladick in the offseason.

“One thing that Ed told me from last season was their lack of goal production, so that’s going to be our focus a lot during the preseason,” he said. “We’ll make sure the defense is taken care of, but getting the goals is going to be crucial.”

 

 

 

 

Steve Hare
Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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