Recently, Energy FC made another addition to the coaching staff with the hiring of Alexis Vizarelis as the club’s new goalkeeper coach. Vizarelis is known locally for his countless accolades and accomplishments both as a player at the University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma [USAO] and coaching success on numerous levels throughout the state.
As preseason camp looms and the season opener [March 17th] just around the corner, the club currently has two signed goalkeepers in veteran Matt Van Oekel and local product Bryan Byars, along with Cody Laurendi who continues his rehab.
I sat down briefly with Coach Vizarelis to ask him his outlook on the upcoming season, playing career, and even who he believes will win World Cup:
First coach welcome, it is great to have you part of the club and thank you for taking a moment. To dive right in, what intrigued you most about this position as goalkeeper coach for the Energy FC?
“Anytime you get the opportunity to work in the professional game I think that is something any competitive coach wants to do. For me, I have been in the state a long time and have watched the Energy FC from afar and have enjoyed some great nights out at Taft Stadium watching the team play. Along with the vibe and local community, it was a no brainer to join the club when the opportunity arose.”
What are your initial thoughts about the new head coach for the Energy FC Steve Cooke? What do you look forward most about working with him this season?
“The first thing I noticed about Steve is his energy and enthusiasm he has for the game. I think the most important thing is he that cares a lot about the player and your character. He has coached at a very high level so for me to come in and work under him was something I was looking forward too. Being able to ask him coaching questions and get into his mind and routine, it will be one of the most beneficial parts I will go through being on his staff.”
You come from a prevalent playing background as well as a vast experience in coaching youth talent in the state of Oklahoma, are you looking forward to using the local talent to develop players through the club’s u-21 and u-23 teams?
“This is one of the reasons why I was drawn to this role with the club. Pathway to Pro is something that every kid who is passionate about soccer grows up dreaming about. How can they get to the stage of packed stadiums, their name on the back of the jersey, and representing their club or country. I once had this ambition so for me, my goalkeeper sessions, and what my philosophy of goalkeeping is doesn’t really change. If you are passionate about playing that position I can help anyone. I am a platform for the players to reach their potential in what they want to achieve or accomplish. My biggest reward is not trophies or awards more so seeing players reach their full potential”
What do you as a coach what to achieve this season and your number one challenge heading into the season?
“Every year I want to improve and get better. What I want to do is help the team anyway I can. In regard to achievement wise, I want to achieve anything that is possible, that has always been my goal. The likelihood of winning every game is very low but the work we put in each week is to win every match. We never look at a match and say “We can do without this one”. We have high expectations here. This is a team that has been to Conference Finals and has been so close. It would be a fantastic achievement if we could give these great fans a season to remember”
What is your most memorable moment(s) as a player?
“As a goalkeeper it is strange, you remember more your saves than actual matches, but a couple memories that stick out starts off with winning my first trophy playing for North Tunbridge. I must have been 15 years old at the time. We won our first cup against Crowborough Athletic. They were really the favorites and had not been beaten all year. I also remember my first match with Arsenal’s Youth Team. That was a great moment even though I was a Tottenham fan, being able to put a professional team’s shirt on was special. Finally, I will never forget my last college match, it was bitter sweet. Your college career goes quickly and there was a realization that this wasn’t going to be my job anymore. Even stranger part of my last match, I started at goalkeeper and finished at center forward.”
Who is your pick to win this year’s World Cup?
“I am actually half English half Greek but since Greece didn’t qualify, that leaves me supporting England this summer. With my heart I say England, but with my head since the tournament is taking place in Europe I fancy Germany. They are very well organized and have many difference makers. France is another team that could very well win too with their numerous attacking options.”
The team reports back for the start of preseason training camp at the beginning of February. Vizarelis and the rest of the coaching staff currently are finalizing the 2018 roster in preparation of the season.
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