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TSA Hires New Boys Soccer Coach

  • Zach Elmore plays for Colby-Sawyer College in a game last season. Elmore, a Berlin, Vt., resident, has been named The Sharon Academy's boys soccer head coach, replacing Rob Stainton.

  • Zach Elmore plays for Colby-Sawyer College in a game last season. Elmore, a Berlin, Vt., resident, has been named The Sharon Academy's boys soccer head coach, replacing Rob Stainton.

  • Zach Elmore plays for Colby-Sawyer College in a game last season. Elmore, a Berlin, Vt., resident, has been named The Sharon Academy's boys soccer head coach, replacing Rob Stainton.

  • Sharon Academy boys soccer coach Rob Stainton talks to his team during a break in practice on August 30, 2012, in Sharon, Vt. Valley News - Geoff Hansen

  • Rob Stainton, of Sharon, is stepping down after coaching Sharon Academy boys soccer for 13 years. Stainton will continue teaching environmental science and chemistry at the high school and take up coaching girls soccer at the Sharon Academy middle school, where his twin daughters are students and soccer players. Stainton was photographed in Sharon, Vt., Thursday, July 26, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rob Stainton, of Sharon, is stepping down after coaching Sharon Academy boys soccer for 13 years. Stainton will continue teaching environmental science and chemistry at the high school and take up coaching girls soccer at the Sharon Academy middle school, where his twin daughters are students and soccer players. Stainton was photographed in Sharon, Vt., Thursday, July 26, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, July 26, 2018

Sharon — It’s a period of transition for the Sharon Academy boys soccer team.

Rob Stainton, the Britain native who became the face of the program over 13 winning seasons with the Phoenix, is leaving to become the girls soccer coach at Sharon Academy Middle School, where his twin daughters, Farren and Ella, will be seventh-graders beginning this fall.

Stainton made his decision only after the girls made theirs. They elected TSA Middle School over Woodstock Union Middle High School, where Stainton’s wife, Jen, is curriculum coordinator.

“We weren’t sure where they were going to go to school, or if they were going to play soccer,” Stainton said in an interview in his classroom at TSA’s high school, where he teaches science. “They never played soccer until last year, even though they’ve always been around it, watching my team’s practices and games. Once I knew they were going to Sharon and wanted to play, this is a chance for me to watch them play and coach them.”

Stainton will be replaced by 22-year-old Zach Elmore, a recent Colby-Sawyer College graduate who scored 18 goals and made five assists in four varsity seasons with the Chargers. A Berlin, Vt., resident, Elmore played for U-32 in high school.

“I was a sports management major and always thought I might want to coach after college,” said Elmore, who was an attacking midfielder. “I think this will be a really good place to start.”

It won’t be easy to follow Stainton, who grew up playing in Harrogate, England, north of Leeds, and brought a rare level of expertise to the Phoenix, which plays in the VPA’s Division IV. He compiled an overall record of 171-42-11 (.763), including a 27-13 postseason mark. Sharon reached 11 semifinals and five championship games under his guidance, though the program remains winless in finals.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of really good players come up, whether it be from (Sharon’s) middle school or elsewhere,” Stainton said. “There were a lot of guys who were already soccer players when they got to high school. It made it a lot easier to coach them at this level.”

Some of them arrived at Sharon at least partially because of the culture Stainton built. School choice students from Hartland and Strafford, for example, were motivated by a desire to join the boys soccer team when electing Sharon, according to TSA athletic director Blake Fabrikant.

“Guys like Silas Mead and Cedar Farwell, a lot of Hartland kids, and guys from Strafford like Michael Young-Ward, Hannes Fischer-Byrne and Tanner James really wanted to come here because of the program Rob developed,” said Fabrikant, who added that another team alumnus, Corey Robicheau, transferred from Rochester High explicitly because of soccer. “Rob is an institution. He’s very level-headed and develops a culture where players can exercise their talent. He gives the kids a lot of credit because he lets them play. You don’t see him yelling and screaming a lot during games. I actually learned a lot about not over-coaching by watching him.”

Though defensive-minded, the Phoenix have had dynamic scorers over the years such as Erik Littlehales, Fischer-Byrne, Young-Ward and James. The team had back-to-back undefeated regular seasons in 2008 and ’09, falling to Black River in the final at the end of both seasons, the latter on penalty kicks following a 1-1 deadlock through two overtimes. Sharon also lost in the final in 2006, ’11 and ’14, the last following another unbeaten campaign to that point.

“They all stung. It would have been better if we were to win championships,” Stainton said. “But getting to five championship games is a lot.”

Fabrikant — who is the school’s varsity boys basketball coach and previously coached girls varsity soccer and boys JV soccer — considered replacing Stainton himself. He and his wife recently gave birth to their first child, however, and naturally hesitated to take on new responsibilities with an infant at home.

In comes Elmore, who carries an up-tempo offensive philosophy. Fabrikant is looking forward to seeing how that style transfers to a program having emphasized defense for more than a decade.

“He knows that you have to put the ball in the back of the net to win, so he’s going to bring a lot of energy to the offensive sets,” Fabrikant said.

“(The team) might be a little thin defensively this year as well, so I’m expecting some baseball-type scores, 6-4 or 5-3, this year, whereas with Rob it was usually either 7-0 or 2-0, 2-1.”

Returning players such as rising senior and center midfielder Alex Olszewski say they’ll be better after playing for Stainton.

“He taught me a lot about not staying flat on the back line, because I had a tendency to stay with (the opponent’s) center back,” Olszewski said in a phone interview. “I’m a lot better at moving around as necessary now.”

Tom Bissaillon, a sophomore-to-be, said he learned a lot about teamwork during his freshman season under Stainton.

“When you work with Rob, you see pretty quick that it has to be a team effort to win,” Bissaillon said. “In the past, I’ve been on teams where one or two guys (are relied on) for most of the work, but not with Rob.”

Elmore realizes there will be an adjustment period for a squad that was 9-5-2 last season and lost to Central Vermont League rival and eventual state champion Rivendell Academy in the quarterfinals. It was only the second time under Stainton that Sharon failed to reach at least the semis.

“Especially when a program has been so successful, it’s going to take some times to switch things over to my style and my ideas, but that’s natural,” Elmore said. “I’m looking forward to meeting the guys. I think they’re going to have fun and be fun to watch.”

Sharon’s preseason training begins on Aug. 16.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.