John (JJ Raley) was named Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) Boys Soccer Coach of the Year. The team finished 5th in the regular season and advanced to the WCAC Semifinals for the second straight year. The team’s success this year is the most notable in the program’s history since joining the WCAC.
“I am very proud and humbled by this recognition because I know how many great coaches we have at St. Mary’s Ryken, and have had in the past,” commented Coach Raley. “To be recognized by the other coaches in the WCAC shows that we’re doing a lot of good things and they recognize our progress over the years.”
Coach Raley says that this season special because of the character and dedication of the players. “To be around 18 young men who bonded together and genuinely cared for one another was something I won’t forget. For a team to play in a WCAC season with only 3 losses is a huge accomplishment and reflects on all of the hard work and time the players put in. This group of players really enjoyed being around one another and the atmosphere within the team was really fun to be around.”
During the regular season, the Knights dominated WCAC opponents with nine wins, three losses and four ties in league play. The semi-final game against Bishop McNamara was a nail-bitter with a 0-1 loss.
As a 2008 graduate of St. Mary’s Ryken and alumni of the SMR soccer program, Coach Raley has witnessed the sport grow and evolve in his tenure as coach.
“The environment of the program has changed quite a bit from my time as a player to now. Now, we have a lot more players that are playing club soccer outside of their school program and who consider soccer their main sport. In years past, we had a lot of tremendous athletes that primarily played other sports but played soccer to stay fit for their main sports (lacrosse, baseball, wrestling etc). It’s exciting to be part of the evolution of soccer becoming so much more popular. Soccer is growing bigger and bigger every year in the United States and is becoming a huge sport, especially at the youth level.”
“It’s a real accomplishment and sense of pride as a coach to watch young 9th graders join the soccer program and then see them graduate as seniors with so much growth over their four years. To be able to give advice to players from a point of view of a former player and SMR alum is something I’m very thankful for. Also the thrill of playing games and earning wins in the WCAC is very enjoyable.”
Coach Raley and the team look forward to the 2022 season in the WCAC! Raley is also a full-time staff member at St. Mary’s Ryken in the Student Life Office.