By Rob Shore
The Kitsap Pumas announced the signings of defensive midfielder Aria Shahmirzadi and center back Max Schellmann for the 2018 National Premier Soccer League on Wednesday.
The players’ paths to the Pumas came after a productive scouting trip by Pumas head coach Liviu Bird, who saw them at a Pro Soccer Consulting combine in Orange County, Calif., in December.
Shahmirzadi, 27, will quite literally be a coach on the field for Kitsap in 2018 — he was an assistant coach for Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, Nev. in 2017. He’s also coached at Lake Tahoe Community College and Folsom Lake Community College.
As a college player, he played three seasons at William Jessup University in Rocklin, Calif.
“As a current coach himself at the NAIA collegiate level, Aria will be a leader for us on the field,” Bird said. “I always say it’s important to have an older player or two who can be a ‘coach on the field’ at this level, and Aria fits that bill quite literally. He caught my eye at the PSC Combine in Orange County over the winter, playing on my team all three days, and his competitiveness and attitude on the field is something our younger players would do well to pick up.
“Aria will also head up a lot of our community outreach efforts through directing our youth camps this summer.”
Schellmann, a 22-year-old native of Ansbach, Germany, is coming off his senior season at Northwest University in Kirkland, where he captained the Eagles’ squad. He started all 18 of Northwest’s games and finished with three goals and an assist — two of the goals came in a 5-4 victory over Antelope Valley.
Schellmann was also named to the All-Cascade Collegiate Conference first team for the 2017 season.
“Max, along with Aria, was at the PSC Combine in California in December that I was fortunate enough to travel to,” Bird said. “He’s a big center back with excellent foot skills who can be a danger in the air on both ends of the pitch. He had a couple of professional offers, but he wanted to stay in the area to finish his degree, but Max is certainly a player who can do things in the game if he gets in front of the right people, which is what we’ll be trying to do for him.”
Bringing both Shahmirzadi and Schellmann to the Pumas certainly made the most of Bird’s scouting mission to Southern California.
“I’m pleased that Liviu was able to benefit from attending our combine in Orange County this winter and find some talent for his 2018 roster,” PSC director of operations Tom Taylor said. “We always aim to bring as many different levels and opportunities for players at our events from the top tiers to the lower tiers, and these boys will now get a good opportunity to develop in a full-time environment and prove themselves at the NPSL level.
“Over the years, Kitsap has been a good stepping stone for many players moving onto the USL level and will provide the boys with great exposure and a high level of play this summer. We wish the players and Liviu the very best for the upcoming season.”
Kitsap’s season begins with the start of training on April 30.