Andrew Chapman, who played an instrumental role in the success of the Kitsap Pumas Soccer Club since their inaugural season in the Premier Development League (PDL) in 2009, concluded his run with the Pumas in 2014 as he coached the club to a Northwest Divisional title, a Western Conference championship and an appearance in the PDL National Final.
While Chapman’s contribution to Kitsap over the past few years has surely helped them to become one of the elite clubs in the entire league, his roots to the Kitsap community run much deeper than even the club he helped build.
Chapman, who was born and raised in Bremerton, Washington discovered a passion for the game of soccer at a young age as he grew up playing for his father for the local Tracyton Soccer Club.
“My parents got me into [soccer] when I was five years old,” said Chapman. “My brother played as well and my dad actually coached me from age 7 to 18. I have always appreciated the rhythm, freedom for creative artistry and the on-going battle the game provides.”
After graduating from the local Olympic High School, Chapman went on to get his associates degree from Olympic College before transferring to Eastern Washington University where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field of physical education.
“At first when I graduated high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” remembered Chapman. “I had some internships with parks and recreation but quickly decided I wanted to do something more sports oriented.”
Although neither Olympic College nor Eastern Washington University had a men’s varsity soccer team at the time, Chapman stayed close to the game by coaching and playing for his collegiate club team for four seasons.
“My first head coaching experience was at 19 when I was asked to coach a local women’s over 30 team,” said Chapman. “I was also an assistant for a South Kitsap boys club team, an Olympic High School girls team and once I moved to Cheney for college I was an assistant coach at Cheney High School and for the Eastern Washington University women’s team.” As an assistant for the Eastern Washington University women’s team, Chapman discovered that coaching was both his true passion and the career he wanted to pursue.
“At first I didn’t think about teaching or coaching as a serious career path,” said Chapman. “But as people kept asking me to help out with their teams things started to come together. I love building programs and it is very fulfilling to create something great from nothing.”
After graduating with his master’s degree in 2003, Chapman manifested his passion for building something out of nothing when he took the head coaching job for the Peninsula Community
College men’s soccer team. In addition he was also named Department Chair for the Physical Education Department and the Director of Soccer.
“When I was first hired at Peninsula they had five soccer balls, no pennies, relied primarily on the local pool of players, had a below average grass field and the most returners they had ever had was four,” said Chapman.
After a difficult first season as the Pirates went an abysmal 1-17-1, Chapman slowly began to turn his program into the community college powerhouse it is today. In his last seven years as head coach the Pirates went an impressive 98-12-10, built a great turf facility, compiled rosters full of players from all around the world and finished with three championships in his last four season alone.
“It was such a fantastic journey taking that program through each step from never winning, to being competitive, to making playoffs, to winning championships and ultimately going undefeated and being nationally ranked my final season,” Chapman said. “Playing a part in that process and getting to coach so many great kids was incredible.”
In addition to the pivotal role he played in the development of the Peninsula College program, Chapman was also heavily involved in the Kitsap Pumas Soccer Club since their inaugural year in 2009.
“I knew John Wedge from some coaching camps so when he was named head coach of the Pumas in 2009, he called me up and asked me to be one of his assistants,” said Chapman. “That first year I became the lead assistant and helped a lot with recruiting.”
While the Pumas offered Chapman another challenge to build a new program into something great the opportunity came with many challenges as well.
“That first year the Hood Canal Bridge was closed so it would take me about three hours each way to get to training every day,” recalled Chapman. “Along with the two hours of training it became a huge time commitment. Even though it was tough it was well worth the sacrifice.”
As Chapman continued his role as assistant coach into the 2011 season, recruiting the squad that eventually went on to win the PDL National Championship, he decided to leave before the conclusion of the season after he and his wife had their first child.
Chapman remained solely focused upon Peninsula College until 2013 when he was asked to use his experience with the club to help with the team again. After serving as general manager for the club for one season, Chapman was ultimately named head coach for the 2014 campaign.
After suffering their worst season in club history Chapman brought the Pumas back to their winning ways leading them to another PDL National Final and finishing the season with an impressive record of 13-2-3. While it is tough for Chapman to narrow down his favorite memory from his extensive time at Kitsap he was able to recall a few that stood out.
“My favorite part of my job with the Pumas was finding unique players from all over the world and bringing them together to play,” said Chapman. “Overall it was such a great experience. I still remember opening night in 2009 looking at over 2,000 people, open cup games when we played in front of thousands of fans, being stuck in an Arizona casino hotel for the 2014 Western Conference finals before watching our center back run down the entire field and score and even going down to Laredo, Texas that first season and playing in 105 degree heat.”
Following all the adversity and great memories that comprised his involvement with the club over the past five years, Chapman decided it was time for him and his family to make a change.
“It was a matter of the big picture,” said Chapman. “With two young boys with special needs we knew we needed to make a move to a city with better medical resources. After living in Kentucky for a year we were led back to Spokane where my wife’s family is at and where there are excellent doctors.”
Although Chapman misses both his job with the Pumas and the Kitsap community in general, he has found joy in his new occupation as both Operations Director and Director of E-commerce and Fulfillment for Skyhawks Sports Academy. He also continues to coach for a Girls 99 Elite Player Development team, which showcases the top talent from all of Eastern Washington.
“It was tough to walk away from coaching for Kitsap but it was what was best for my family,” said Chapman. “Now I get to be a family man and be home with my kids and wonderful wife every night and weekend, it is great.”
While Chapman has turned over a new leaf in regards to his career he remains invested in the success of the club he helped build.
“Being from Bremerton I was so excited for the creation of the Pumas,” said Chapman. “I still talk to the coaches quite often and try to help out in any way I can. The ceiling for the club is so high for them now and I am excited to watch it grow even more.”