Ballenas Secondary teacher and athletic director Larry Stefanek has been named the new head coach of the University of Victoria men’s soccer program, effective May 2.
A former Vikes player, Stefanek becomes the sixth head coach in program history, following in the footsteps of longtime coach Bruce Wilson, who retired in December.
“It’s a privilege to come to a program like the Vikes,” said Stefanek. “Bruce has built a solid foundation for many years and I’m very excited about this opportunity. It’s truly an honour.”
Stefanek heads to UVic from Vancouver Island University, where he has spent the last four seasons as head coach of the men’s soccer program. During that time, he found tremendous success leading the program to PacWest silver medals in 2019 and 2021, a CCAA silver medal in 2019, while also earning PacWest coach of the year honours.
“We are beyond pleased to welcome Larry as the newest member of our coaching staff,” said Nick Clarke, director, Varsity Performance Sport. “As a former Vike, he just gets it. His connections to the program, alumni and community stood out during the search process as well as his commitment to the holistic development of the modern student-athlete. As a passionate, lifelong soccer ambassador with local ties, Larry’s overall skillset is ideal for varsity performance sport. It’s exciting times for Vikes men’s soccer. The future is in great hands.”
The Vikes soccer alumnus played under Wilson from 1989-1992, during which he was named a CIS (now U SPORTS) All-Canadian and Canada West all-star. Prior to that, Stefanek played for two seasons at Malaspina College (now VIU). He also represented Canada in the 1993 World Student (FISU) Games and played futsal at the U18 level.
Beyond his accolades as a player, Stefanek is a veteran coach with experience developing athletes at all levels of the game. Holding a Bachelor of Education, Master of Education in coaching studies and a Canada Soccer A Licence, Stefanek’s resume is extensive, including time spent as an associate coach with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC from 2015-2018. He’s also spent many years coaching in the Vancouver Island Premier League as well at the development level with the Whitecaps FC academy program, BC Summer Games and Upper Island Academy.
Soccer runs in the Stefanek family—his son Evan played five seasons with the Vikes and is now finishing a master’s degree at UVic, while his daughter Larissa plays for the VIU Mariners women’s soccer team.
Stefanek will give up his post in Parksville to become a permanent fixture with the Vikes.
– NEWS Staff, submitted