On May 16, Flathead High School Athletic Director Bryce Wilson announced that Alejandro Calderon had been hired as head soccer coach for the Braves, replacing Zach Brenneman, who led the Braves team for four years before taking over the Bravettes this fall.
“Calderon has a strong desire to lead the Flathead Braves soccer program with positive energy and hard work,” Wilson said in a press release. “He outlined his vision during the interview with details for leading the program with communication, competing, fun and commitment.”
Calderon wasted no time putting his vision into action over his first summer at the helm.
“We gave the kids more preseason opportunities, including having them play on adult leagues where they have to be able to keep up with older players,” Calderon said. “In Colombia, you were getting recruited professionally as a teenager, so you have to play with the adults.”
Calderon has played soccer ever since he was a little kid growing up in Colombia, calling it “my passion, my love, it’s what I do.”
The first time he played on an organized team — and on a grass field instead of concrete streets — was at Flathead as a high schooler. Following a successful prep career with the Braves, Calderon played in Seattle for several different teams before he returned to Montana and began coaching club soccer and wrestling. In 2017 he started working at Flathead as the boys JV coach.
“I’m just so excited about coaching here because of all the resources we have,” Calderon said. “In my opinion it’s better than club soccer, because a lot of kids can’t afford that style. It’s nice to offer this opportunity and make sure all kids are able to play.”
As part of his plan to build the players’ love for the sport, Calderon took a group of athletes to Seattle to watch a Sounders game and play street soccer in the big city.
“It’s a whole perspective on soccer that we don’t have here,” he said. “And it’s a way to begin building the Braves family. I don’t want the relationships between players and coaches to just exist for the three months we’re together. I want them to be available for the athletes year-round.”
The strategy seems to already be paying off. During preseason scrimmages, Calderon was surprised at the number of kids that showed up to play.
“It’s a good problem to have,” he said. “There’s already more interest in Flathead soccer and that’s awesome.”
Last season the Braves were shut out in the first round of the Class AA tournament while their crosstown rivals made it through to the final. Flathead has already started the 2022 season on a stronger foot than last year, notching shutout wins against Helena and Big Sky, and sitting on the second highest goal differential in Class AA after three games.
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