Christian Zylstra-Staff Writer
Looking for a jolt of energy in its program, Unity Christian High School hired Cody Van Holland as its new junior varsity boys’ soccer coach.
Van Holland, a senior at Dordt College and one of the 2016 men’s soccer captains, made the decision easy for Unity Athletic Director Terry Schouten.
“Not only does he bring passion and his excitement but he also brings his ability to teach,” Schouten said. “He’s a smart, thinking kind of player, which oftentimes bodes well for coaches.”
Van Holland sees himself in a similar light and feels his brain is what makes him a good player.
“I’ve always been told I know the game of soccer well and that I’d be a good coach, so it excites me to see if I can meet that challenge and do it,” Van Holland said.
The junior varsity coaching position became available when former Unity Christian Boys’ Soccer Head Coach Ben Karnish stepped down. From there, Steve Westra received a promotion and moved up from the JV to varsity coaching level.
Schouten said Van Holland wasn’t their original choice for the JV coaching position. The process started locally, but Van Holland wasn’t among the initial candidates.
Pursuing two other candidates, Schouten and Westra struggled to find a capable replacement. That’s when Schouten went to his good friend and Dordt College Men’s Soccer Head Coach, Craig Stiemsma.
From there, Stiemsma sent Schouten Van Holland’s contact information. Running some background checks, Schouten contacted his brother and Van Holland’s basketball coach at Sioux Falls Christian High School, Mike Schouten. The result was nothing but praise.
Schouten and Westra reached out to Van Holland, who considered the opportunity but wasn’t sure it’d be possible.
“I’ve always wanted to coach but never pursued it because architecture takes up so much of my time,” Van Holland said.
Schouten and Westra made a trip to Dordt’s campus, visited with Van Holland and came away impressed. They wanted him for the job.
“His love and knowledge for the game is outstanding,” Schouten said. “Steve [Westra] is very, very excited for some new ideas and fresh concepts. It’s always good to have some fresh ideas and perspectives come in.”
With a desire to enter coaching, Van Holland accepted Unity’s offer and started readying himself for the start of a new opportunity.
“One of my biggest goals is to make sure that I do develop these kids,” Van Holland said. “I want them to get better and enjoy the game. It stunk that soccer is the second or third sport for a lot of these kids, so I hope I can help them enjoy the game and see everything that soccer can do for them.”
Schouten and Westra, pleased with Van Holland’s decision to join the Unity team, think the hiring will reap substantial benefits.
“Cody was a great player but also had a great head for the game, and we think that’s going to bring some big rewards for the program,” Schouten said.
Unity Christian JV boys’ soccer starts practice in March and plays two or three games a week from early April through mid-May.