Amid a busy day of Sounders news yesterday, I also went to the campus of Seattle University as the school announced the hiring of Peter Fewing as men’s soccer coach. Fewing, as you may know, has does television and radio work for the Sounders the past three years. He coached the Kitsap Pumas of the PDL from 2010-11 and led them to a league championship last year.
But before all that, Fewing had led the Redhawks for 18 greatly successful seasons from 1988 through 2005. He won national titles in 1997 (NAIA) and 2004 (NCAA Div. II) and was named national coach of the year after each of those seasons.
His tenure came to a bit of a messy end in early 2006, however, when a dispute with the university’s previous athletic director led to Fewing’s abrupt resignation. The last straw, the coach said then, when he was told to reduce his paid staff.
On Tuesday, that was all in the past.
Fewing’s return, while emotional, was a celebration. He was excited. School officials, alumni, current and former players were excited.
“This place is special to me — very, very special,” said Fewing.
It took some time, though, to get over the damage that led to his departure. The turning point, according to Fewing, might’ve come last February, when he talked to president Father Stephen Sundborg for about an hour — not about coming back, but about forgiveness and reconciliation.
When previous coach Brad Agoos was fired in November, Fewing took the two months to reflect and pray, which he said put him in the right mindset to come back. Fewing had the desire to return to college coaching and had explored options around the country.
“In the back of my mind, I was always thinking to come home,” he said.
Athletic director Bill Hogan said more than 100 coaches applied for the job, calling the search an “exhaustive process.” Fewing stood out, Hogan said, due to his coaching abilities, but also a commitment to academics, community work and the university’s Jesuit traditions.
For Fewing, things will be a little bit different at Seattle U. compared to six years ago.
The Redhawks are now a Division I team that plays in the competitive Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Hogan also credited the success of regional MLS clubs for elevating the stature of the program.
“The Northwest is now the place to play soccer,” he said.
Fewing, who hinted that lights might be coming to the team’s facility, hopes to use his connections with the Sounders to help strengthen the Redhawks. His analysis work is expected to continue and could bring more attention to Seattle U. Perhaps most importantly, he hopes to develop a positive relationship with Sounders FC’s youth academy.
And while it will take time to turn things around from a 2-13-2 record last season, motivation won’t be an issue.
“You talk about pressure to win — there will be no pressure on this program to win than we all we put on ourselves, trust me,” Fewing said. “That will come from within. … It won’t be good enough for us to be average.”