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by Audrey Partington
It is often said that you can’t go home again.
But in the case of Kristina Bryn Nolan, you can go home to give back to the community that nurtured you.
Nolan, a former soccer player at Sherwood High School (class of 2003), is the new girls varsity soccer coach at her alma mater.
“Being an alumnus of Sherwood High School’s soccer program, Kristina’s knowledge and passion for soccer is contagious,” said Jason Woodward, Sherwood’s athletic director. “She knows exactly how to get the girls motivated and prepared, day in and day out.”
Nolan played soccer at Greenwood Elementary School and Rosa Parks Middle School, and then honed her skills at Sherwood. She was designated “Most Valuable Player” during her junior year.
A foot injury prior to her senior year would have had her sitting out the season. But the D.C. sniper attacks in the fall of 2002 sidelined the entire team due to safety concerns.
“It was a bummer to miss senior year,” Nolan said.
Still, she recalled some memorable games, like beating Wootton High School and Watkins Mill High School.
“Wootton had a rough team that had always beaten us before,” Nolan said. “And Watkins Mill had the best female soccer player I’d ever seen.”
Nolan had already secured a soccer scholarship to North Carolina State University in her junior year, so she was able to join NC State’s women’s soccer team for the 2003-2004 season, after a brief period when she was still healing from her foot injury.
When she transferred to the University of Maryland to pursue a degree in criminology, she resumed coaching youth soccer as a volunteer as she had done in high school for Student Service Learning credit hours and during semester breaks from college.
She also coached at the Upper 90 Soccer Academy owned by Hector Morales Jr., the former head coach of the boys varsity soccer team at Sherwood, which won the state championship in 2004 and 2005. He is currently the head coach of the boys varsity soccer team at Walter Johnson High School, which won the state championship in 2016 under his leadership.
“Kristina’s was one of our area’s top high school players and went on to play in college,” Morales said. “She has the technical and tactical background and understands what the players need to be successful. Her enthusiasm and love for the game will be reflected in her coaching.”
After college, Nolan worked at Ricciuti’s restaurant in Olney.
“I quickly worked my way up the chain,” which led to managing other area restaurants over a 15-year period, she said. Now a mother to three young boys, she manages her husband’s landscaping business.
But she still wanted to keep a hand – and foot — in the game of soccer.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Nolan reached out to Woodward to volunteer her assistance to Sherwood’s athletic department. He advised her to contact Hope Gouterman, who was then coaching girls soccer.
Then the pandemic changed everything. Many high school athletes missed their senior year, just as she had.
“If they’re passionate about it, they’ll continue,” Nolan said.
When the position of girls varsity soccer coach became available for this fall, Nolan was quick to apply.
“When I got the job, I reached out to Tony Pykosh, my former coach at Sherwood, and asked if I could pick his brain,” Nolan said.
Pykosh has coached with the Bethesda Soccer Club for the past 13 years.
“I’m very happy that Kristina is getting into coaching,” Pykosh said. “She was an intense competitor and has a tremendous soccer mind. I saw back then that she ‘thought’ the game on a higher level than most. She was creative, composed and driven to succeed. I enjoyed coaching her and she will be a success at Sherwood. I have no doubt about that.”
Nolan has found everyone at Sherwood to be welcoming, especially Todd Levine, Sherwood’s girls junior varsity coach, who has been with the program for many years.
“There are quite a few seniors on the team this year,” Nolan said. “That’s a good thing because they’ve played together before.”
Nolan is also nurturing three young athletes at home.
“My sons are happy and excited that I will be coaching soccer, but they are all very much into baseball at the moment,” she said. “I haven’t given up, though, I need at least one of them to play soccer at some point.”
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