Family on the field

Aaron Waldman and Benny Hasenberg

Paul Simonetti never expected to work with his daughter Olivia Simonetti, but when athletic trainer and family member Victoria Simonetti connected them to JDS, they couldn’t turn down the opportunity to co-coach the girls varsity soccer team.

Paul and Olivia are the new girls varsity soccer coaches this year, and they are the father and sister of Victoria Simonetti. Having that connection was a big reason why the coaching job was appealing, and additionally, they loved the welcoming community of JDS. 

Olivia started playing soccer at nine up until her sophomore year of college. She played on a competitive travel soccer team as a child. Paul used to help coach and train Olivia and her siblings when they were children. He also played soccer much of his life.

Coaching as a duo would also allow for Paul, who has coached before, to combine forces and maximize their potential.

In her first year as a member of the girls varsity team, Leah Harrison was named one of the co-captains of the team by her coaches. Harrison has enjoyed the time she’s spent with her new coaches so far. 

“They play along with us. We have fun, we make jokes, everyone has a good time,” Harrison said. 

The coaches feel that the biggest need for the team right now is getting enough time on the field. During September, there was very limited practice time because of the Jewish holidays, and on top of that, due to COVID, many of the girls have not played soccer in over two years. It is now crucial that they get back into shape and develop team chemistry.

“There’s very limited playing and practice time, limited time playing together where players get to gel,” Paul said. “For me to have a player coaching with me who’s a little closer in age to the players on the team, and has had many recent player experiences helps her relate to the players,” Paul said. “As a coach and mentor [that] is a huge help to me.”

Paul and Oliva feel that the most important part of their job is teaching the players meaningful lessons that will enable them to be successful on and off the field. Learning from experience is one of the lessons that they have emphasized. 

“It’s very important to learn from the mistakes that you make on the field,” Olivia said. “Everything is a learning experience. I think that’s the number one thing for me.”

In their first season as coaches of the team, Paul and Olivia have led the team to a successful season with an 8-2 record. Harrison and the rest of the team are excited to see where the Lions go from here. 

“We’ve been playing great, and I really hope we just keep on winning,” Harrison said.