Bothell High new head coach Travis Bear scans the field and notes that his team’s motto is “Family, Desire and Discipline.”
As the girls soccer players roll through a recent practice, Bear clearly looks at home on the Cougar campus. After all, this is where he and three of his siblings made their mark as student-soccer athletes. His two older sisters won two 4A KingCo titles and qualified for state twice, and he and his younger brother kicked their way to state one year after winning three straight matches to make it to the premier event.
“It’s awesome. It was kind of a dream of mine since I graduated. I always wanted to come back and be able to coach this team, so the fact that it’s happened as quickly as it did is beyond me,” said the 2008 BHS graduate, who was a Cougar assistant the last three years. “I’m excited every day to show up, and to keep this tradition going of Bothell soccer being competitive and having a good time.”
Bear and some of his coaches are BHS grads and they’re glad to be leading the Cougs together.
Last year, BHS notched a 7-7-4 overall record and was thrilled to defeat Eastlake, 1-0, in the first round of the KingCo playoffs for the second straight year.
“I really liked how we worked hard last year. We learned to play when we were tired, so pushing ourselves,” said senior center midfielder Estera Levinte, a first-team all-leaguer last season.
Levinte added that two keys to Cougar success will be teammates getting in synch and helping make other players better by everyone stepping up their own game.
At a recent practice, Levinte sported a green cast on her right wrist. During a practice with her Seattle Surf select squad, teammate and Inglemoor High player Nicole van Englen curled the ball around a teammate and it headed toward Levinte, who batted it away to protect her face. Levinte wound up with a fractured wrist that required surgery, and she’ll be wearing a wrapped-up cast during games for about a month and a half.
Levinte played as hard as ever at practice, as did the rest of the Cougars, including fellow seniors Kaitlin Bean and Rachel Madison, who also compete for Seattle Surf.
Bean, a forward who scored eight goals last year, said that during her Bothell career, she’s “learned to be more disciplined. I’ve learned how to work with people who are hard on you. I’ve learned to take criticism more.”
Having fun and working hard are hallmarks to the Cougars’ game and they’ll need to be in tip-top shape to succeed.
“I think the more fit we are this year, the better we can get back and defend,” Bean said.
Speaking of defense, Madison is the only returning back-line player and said they’ll do well if they’re aggressive and tireless.
“None of those (KingCo) kids are gonna take it easy on you, and if you get hit and you fall down, you just have to get right back up and make the tackle,” she said.
Other top returners are junior Haley Zirker (forward) and sophomores Hannah Cecil, Devon Lipkin and Ashley Weller, all of whom are either forwards or midfielders.
“The biggest thing is just showing up with the attitude of work and getting better as a group. Putting the team above one’s self,” Bear said.