PRESS RELEASE: Lakeside School announced on Monday (Feb. 17) that former Cleveland State women’s soccer head coach Derrek Falor has been tabbed as its first-ever girls soccer program head. Falor assumes control of a program that boasts five WIAA state championship victories in nine appearances.
In addition to his duties overseeing a robust program structure (grades 5-12), Falor will be on the touchline leading the Lions as girls varsity head coach.
“The opportunity to come back to the Pacific Northwest and coach is extremely exciting for our family,” said Falor. “We’ve been away for 13 years and are really fired up to do something special at Lakeside.”
Falor began his coaching career in 1992 as a graduate assistant coach with the women’s team at Western Washington University, where he completed a master’s degree in sports psychology. He returned to Western in 1995, this time in a head coaching role. Under his leadership, the Vikings finished in the top three of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and qualified for the conference tournament in each of his six years while garnering numerous individual conference, regional, and national awards. During this time, he also served short stints as an assistant coach of the Bellingham Orcas of the USISL and the Washington State Olympic Development Program U-19 and U-17 teams. In 2001, he moved on to DePaul University, where he spent two years as the first assistant in both the Blue Demons’ men’s and women’s programs.
“With any head coach search we do, we always cast our net far and wide in hopes that we can attract excellent candidates. It’s exciting to see that our program has now grown to a point where someone like Derrek, who has built a program at the Division I level, looks at Lakeside as a desirable professional opportunity. That says a lot about the work we’re doing here,” said Lakeside athletic director Abe Wehmiller.
In 2003, Falor was hired to be the first women’s head coach at Cleveland State University, a Division I program competing in the Horizon League. Building the program from scratch, Falor and CSU reached competitive high points with a third place Horizon League finish in 2010 and a fourth place finish and double-digit win total in 2011. In his 11 years at CSU, he produced 23 all-conference players, one Horizon League player of the year, and two CSU student-athletes of the year. His teams also excelled in the classroom, with over 20 students earning dean’s list honors each semester and the team as a whole averaging a 3.5 grade point average.
“The goal over the next two to three years is to create a leadership culture within our program,” said Falor. “We will work hard at learning to lead with a championship focus in every facet – in the classroom, on the field, in the weight room, and in the community, I expect our team to be first class with every step we take. Our main goal is to get this program back to being a championship contender. The only way to do that is to make sure we get better each and every day.”
Coach Falor describes his coaching philosophy as one that is focused on developing the whole student-athlete, prioritizing academics, establishing an elite level of competitiveness, creating strong personal standards and values, teaching the importance of mental training within soccer, and creating a holistic approach to fitness and nutrition.
“It’s one of those situations where the timing is fortuitous on both ends,” said Wehmiller. “We were looking for someone to step in and provide the long-term stability our program needs to grow and consistently achieve success. Derrek was looking for a long-term, stable, and exciting new opportunity in this area. We both feel pretty darn lucky that we were looking for the same thing at the same time.”
A Seattle-area native, Falor grew up in Shoreline, attended Shorecrest High School, and played soccer for two years at Shoreline Community College before transferring to Western to finish his undergraduate degree. He and his wife, Camille, have long desired to move back to the area to be close to both their extended families.
“I feel like the timing is right from both an internal and external perspective for Lakeside soccer to take a huge step forward, Falor said. “From the staff through to the players, we are all on the same page. Nothing is going to be handed to us as team, so we will have to work very hard to instill a competitive drive to be our best every single time we step onto the field – it was clear during the interview process that everyone associated with the athletic department and soccer program all feels the same.“