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Jersey Shore alumni named Clarion Women’s Soccer Head Coach

By JON GERARDI

jgerardi@sungazette.com

When Alexa Ream announced that she was going to be the new coach for the women’s soccer program at Clarion University, she started getting tons of congratulatory texts and messages. And among those includes her former club coaches.

They texted Ream and joked that they remember coaching her as a 10-year-old kid in various youth tournaments and now, she was joining them at the college level as a fellow Division 2 coach.

“It’s really, really great to go back to the place that my college soccer career kind of all started and Clarion’s kind of a home to me,” Ream said. “I knew when I walked on campus a few weeks ago that’s where I wanted to be and soccer program in general is really competitive. Exciting time not only for me, but the program and team in general. Very competitive and very close to getting the deserved wins they’ve been working for and I’m really eager and excited to get to that point.”

It’s been surreal to say the least for Ream.

Ream was a standout soccer player in high school at Jersey Shore, graduating in 2012. She went to Clarion where she played soccer from 2012-14 as a talented midfielder and started in 33 of 35 games she appeared in. Ream then transferred and played a year at Lock Haven before graduating in the winter of 2016.

“That’s great thing about this job is coaches not only in conference ,but in women’s soccer in general, we’re competitive but friends,” Ream said. “We share ideas, we run things past each other. So when you get to play somebody you have such a great relationship with, it makes competitiveness so much more fun. But at the end of the day, we’re still coaching friends and friends outside of coaching.”

Those coaches Ream once played for in club soccer at STN North Penn in Milton were current Mansfield women’s coach John Shaffer, Pitt-Johnstown women’s coach Vito Addalli and Mercyhurst women’s coach Jon Arlet. Now she’s going to be coaching against the same coaches she once looked up to as a player years ago.

“They coached me and helped me get to this point, which is unreal. Obviously my playing experience I went to Clarion and played at Lock Haven and had pleasure of playing with a lot of players and very knowledgeable coaches,” Ream said. “Everyone I met along the way has kind of made me fall in love that this is career I want to do. I wouldn’t say luck, but I feel lucky to be in this position because it’s always been the goal. It’s always been that I want to coach at the collegiate level. At what aspect? I wasn’t sure, but I know this is the aspect now. This is what I want to do.”

Ream will be one of the youngest coaches in the PSAC this fall, but the former Bulldog knows that while she may be young, her resume shows she has the ability to coach.

She was an assistant coach under Arlet in 2019 at Mercyhurst and before that, she was a graduate assistant coach at Wheeling Jesuit. In her first year as an assistant with Mercyhurst, she helped the Lakers go 11-6-2 and 10-6-1 in the PSAC.

Coaching wasn’t necessarily what Ream wanted to do once she got to college and played college soccer. All Ream knew was that she loved the game and was knowledgeable in it, but wasn’t sure if coaching was something she wanted to explore.

Those coaches from STN North Penn though - Shaffer, Arlet, Addalli – are the reason that Ream is now a coach in the PSAC.

“They really inspired me and they were able to build my confidence in a way that I could be a coach and I could do what I was doing. They helped me learn and helped me develop as a coach,” Ream said. “I think it all has to do with those guys and just realizing I love this game and I can continue teaching other kids, other college kids, helping out other adults in learning and also loving this game.”

Ream now inherits a Clarion squad that went 5-12-1 last season overall and 4-11-1 in the conference. And while Clarion has struggled in the wins column this decade – Clarion has on six games in a season just once since 2010 – Ream is up for the challenge of rebuilding the program.

She knows that there are talented players on Clarion’s roster and she is expecting more competitiveness as she takes the reigns over.

“They’re all very, very positive, enthusiastic and ready to start winning, which makes my job a little easier to be honest because I’m inheriting a competitive and talented group,” Ream said. “Next couple years my expectation is to keep Clarion a competitive program and start winning some games.

“The record isn’t deserving of the work they put in. They’re very close to winning those games and the PSAC West for women’s soccer is very tough and competitive. Any win is a great win. It’s an unpredictable conference, it’s competitive.”

Ream’s roster consists of four District 4 grads in Midd-West’s Brynn Markley, Jersey Shore’s Annalise Eiserth, Selinsgrove’s Courtni Hamm and Sullivan County’s all-time scorer Macy McCarthy in addition to Central Mountain’s Jamey Renninger. Ream noted that due to the coronavirus pandemic, she hasn’t been able to meet with the entire team yet, but has spoken to numerous players.

“Expectation wise, I first and foremost expect the girls to buy in, this is a build-up program,” Ream said. “We’re going to start building a culture, a program, that wins soccer games.”

It may be a fairly high bar given that Clarion has won five games in a season just three times this past decade, but given her playing resume and coaching experience, Ream is the right type of person to start changing things at Clarion.

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