Lincoln High welcomes new coach to program
Following former Lincoln High girls soccer coach David Zinzun’s announcement that he would be stepping down and moving over to the boys program, the school’s administration selected former Rio Americano coach Garrett Morgan to fill Zinzun’s spot.
Morgan, Rio’s junior varsity coach, was slated to move into the Raiders’ top spot when longtime coach Jennifer Smiley announced she was leaving after compiling an overall 121-22-17 record.
“I expected to have an opportunity to step into that role and at least be considered, and that was my plan,” said Morgan. “(Smiley has) been a great coach there for more than a decade, tons of success.”
But Smiley decided to return for at least one more season so Morgan looked into other head-coaching opportunities. He had heard of Zinzun’s decision to step down and recalled Rio American’s playoff game against Lincoln last year.
In that contest, the Raiders had not lost a match and had scored more than 70 goals up to that point. But the Zebras gave Rio Americano all they could handle, and more.
“These girls from Lincoln, for almost 70 minutes, held that team scoreless,” said Morgan. “(Rio Americano) dismantled teams and what (Lincoln’s) girls did for 60-70 minutes before finally giving in at the end was really, really remarkable.”
Morgan said there were three reasons he decided to apply for the position: Lincoln High’s facility, the level of talent in the area and what Zinzun had accomplished before stepping down. In fact, it was Zinzun who showed Morgan around the campus and introduced him to some of the returning players.
After meeting with principal Michael Maul and athletic director Donna Tofft, Morgan felt confident the Zebras’ would be a good fit for him.
“The athletic director, Donna Tofft, is probably the most organized administrator I’ve ever been around in school,” said Morgan. “She’s very phenomenal and it not only makes my job easy, but it also makes the environment more productive.”
Morgan has an extensive background in soccer, working with the U.S. Soccer System and the Elite Club National League. He has also served as an evaluator for the Olympic Development Program, has coached soccer in community college and club competitive soccer.
The new coach said he also learned a great deal from Smiley, while at Rio Americano. Morgan also expects to move up to his B license in coaching this year, as well.
But for Morgan, it was perhaps when he saw this year’s squad in action during workouts.
“The first time I got to see any of them kick a ball … I was a little nervous, to be honest, because you never know what you’re going to get and I was absolutely astonished,” Morgan said. “I already knew they were good players, but they have a unique set of skills in terms of their composure and physicality.
“From the top down; from the seniors down to the ninth and 10th graders, the level of talent is very, very high.”
Morgan said what he feels is important is in communicating his philosophy, be consistent and let players and parents know the game plan from season’s beginning through playoffs, and the playoffs is where he expects the Zebras to finish.
He said not all of his players will move on to play at the college level, but he said his players will be give every opportunity to do so.
“Yes, soccer is going to be a big part of that and yes, it’s a lot of fun, but helping them evolve into more complete people is really what it’s about,” said Morgan. “And I think the timing is just right, to be honest. I think the girls are ready; the school is ready; they have that ability and hopefully I’m the right coach … to get it to that level where we’re winning playoff games and maybe even a section title.”