No coach would be crazy enough to coach both a collegiate soccer team and a high school team at the same time, right?
Not quite. The Lower Columbia area boasts two with just the right blend of insanity and passion for the sport.
Toledo/Winlock United’s Horst Malunat and Woodland’s Bryan Vogel both are working double time.
Malunat started the Centralia College women’s program two years ago and plans to coach the high school boys’ team through his son’s senior season.
Vogel took the Lower Columbia College women’s soccer job, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see what this talented freshmen class with the Beavers could do.
“It’s a lot of work doing both,” Malunat said. “My advice would be to always make sure to make time for family. If you balance that out really well, it can work out.”
And perhaps it was meant to be that these two coaches share the feat of managing both. Their paths are eerily similar.
Malunat started the Clark women’s program in 2000. By his side soon after? A young Andreas, now a star junior for the United team. Vogel, too, has a young daughter — and a players’ favorite — helping out along the sideline.
“It is kind of funny just where we are with things,” Vogel said. “He’s just a few years ahead of me.”
Building from scratch
For Malunat, the statement is quite literal. The coach started the Skyview boys’ program in 1997, the Clark women’s program in 2000, reignited the United boys’ program in 2002 and started the Centralia women’s program in 2016. He also played a part in starting up the Twin City Union FC soccer program.
“It’s always an interesting experience being somewhere for the first time and creating something new,” Malunat said. “The first comment I heard when I came to Lewis County in 2002 was ‘Oh, you coach that Communist sport.’ I thought I went in a time warp back to the 80s.”
Vogel, since taking over Malunat’s Salmon Creek youth team, has had his own history of building programs. The Beavers’ soccer team was long stuck in the cellar of the Greater St. Helens League.
No longer. The boys’ team is expected to be among the contenders for a postseason spot this year. Four players bring in club experience; Aidan Thrall and Brennan Lamoreaux provide strong offensive weapons.
He hopes to offer the same to LCC, which made its first postseason trip since 2005 last season.
“In both places, we’re starting with a team that wasn’t traditionally successful,” Vogel said. “But there was a strong athletic tradition at the school. They had strong runs of success in all their other programs. I hope to be able to build on that.”
It all comes down to connections when recruiting athletes into an NWAC program. Malunat and Vogel have plenty.
Malunat not only has relationships with other coaches in the Trico 1A League, and through his son’s sporting experiences in the Central 2B league, he also boasts a large web of contacts in Vancouver.
“I went to Columbia River, so I think living 28 years down in Vancouver, I have that connection,” Malunat said. “I grew up here, played here, coached here. It opens a lot of doors to players giving me a shot.”
Vogel has a similar base. He’s well respected by coaches throughout Cowlitz and Clark County and isn’t afraid to take a look at athletes from smaller schools.
Take two-time Central 2B Defensive Player of the Year Emily Mickelson of Kalama, for example.
“I’ve known her and have been able to coach her a little,” Vogel said. “You can really find some good players that get overlooked.”
Of course, Vogel signing on with LCC means his biggest rival is old friend Malunat.
“Come game day, we might not be as friendly,” Vogel laughed. “But after game day, we’ll have a beer and talk about things. But I’ll bounce ideas off him and see how he manages teaching, his family and coaching.”
Both Malunat and Vogel are teachers. Malunat teaches history and German at Toledo; Vogel teaches special education at Laurin Middle School in Battle Ground.
It was Malunat who helped Vogel get his foot in the door of the coaching world when he recommended Vogel take over his Salmon Creek youth team many years ago. Several of those players are now playing for Woodland High soccer, including Gaige Pilot and Jackson Finn.
“He’s going to be great,” Malunat said. “I wish him the best. I really think he’s going to help the league with adding to the talent.”