Like every boys soccer coach, Valentin Dimitrov hears assorted cries of jubilation and disgust during his team’s practice sessions and games.
But unlike most of them, he hears them in a wide variety of different languages.
“It’s really pretty funny,” said Dimitrov, who is in his fourth year as the head coach at Rogers. “You hear guys yelling Spanish words, you hear some Russian – even some Bosnian.
“We have to be one of the most culturally diverse teams in the state, and I think it’s cool.”
Remarkably, there are 12 nationalities, outside of American, ranging from Myanmar to South African, represented among the 29 players on the Pirates’ varsity and junior varsity rosters. And while that creates some communication problems, Dimitrov – a Bulgarian native – has learned to embrace his team’s multicultural character.
“I usually have at least three or four who are in our English as a Second Language Department,” he said. “So they know some English, but it’s limited.”
So to get his message across, Dimitrov uses some of his older players – such as senior midfielder Peter Ling, a native of Myanmar – to help translate for young players who speak the same native language.
“The players who have been here for three or four years usually have better English-speaking and comprehension skills,” Dimitrov said. “So it works out pretty well.”
Of the 17 players on his varsity roster, three are from Mexico and three are from Myanmar. Other countries represented include Vietnam, Laos and Tajikistan.
On the junior varsity roster are two players from Russia, two from Iraq and one each from Mexico, El Salvador, Thailand, Myanmar, the Marshall Islands, South Africa and Venezuela. In addition, Dimitrov’s volunteer coach, Hussam Al Khalidy, is from Iraq.
“And not one of my kids plays club soccer,” Dimitrov said. “I always tell them, ‘First of all, not one of you plays club. And because of the way everyone speaks different languages at different levels, that makes it even more challenging.’ ”
Still, the Pirates have managed to start the season 2-2 overall and have a chance to move their 1-1 Greater Spokane League record above .500 in today’s 4 p.m. home match against Mt. Spokane.
“Like I said, we have limited skills and some communication problems,” Dimitrov said. “But this is probably the best group of kids I have ever had. They’re very coachable, they try hard and they listen.
“They are fun to coach.”
G-Prep on early roll
The hottest team in the Greater Spokane League is Gonzaga Prep (8-0 overall, 2-0 in the GSL), which tries to keep its record unblemished this afternoon when it takes on North Central at Merkel Field.
The Bullpups, behind the offensive production of senior Shane Schmidlkofer (10 goals, six assists) and sophomore Jake Kraut (seven goals, six assists) have outscored their opponents 38-2.
Coach Matt Kinder said those numbers are a bit misleading, consi- dering his team has yet to play any of the perennial GSL powers such as Ferris, Mead, Central Valley and Lewis and Clark.
“Those teams have proven themselves year in and year at the 4A level,” Kinder said. “We work hard to be mentioned in the conversation with them and hope we can challenge them for playoff spots this year.
“Our goals are high this year, but we’re tempering our enthusiasm with the knowledge that the toughest competition is yet to come and we still have much to improve on.”