Alvi Ibanez was named the new boys soccer coach at Swampscott earlier this week.
By HAROLD RIVERA
The Swampscott boys soccer team has found its new coach. Earlier this week, the school announced that Alvi Ibanez has been tabbed to direct the Big Blue.
“I was happy, I wanted to get back into coaching in the Northeastern Conference,” Ibanez said. “I noticed that the job was posted and that was my opportunity. I applied, I became a finalist and the job was offered. It was great.”
Ibanez comes to Swampscott with a wealth of soccer experience, both coaching and playing. As a coach, his career includes stints at Beverly, where he led the Panthers from 1992-1995, Salem State, where he directed the women’s team from 1996-2006, and, most recently, Hamilton-Wenham, where he coached the girls team from 2012-2014. Among his accolades are coach of the year awards in the NEC (1992), Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (2002) and Cape Ann League (2012).
With the majority of his coaching duties having taken place on the North Shore, Ibanez has a good sense of familiarity with the boys soccer program at Swampscott.
“I know from what I’ve read in the papers,” Ibanez said. “I know that the program lost about 12 seniors. I know they did well last season and lost a tough one in the playoffs.”
Ibanez added, “I’ve always known of Swampscott soccer to be committed. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to getting in there and getting the process started.”
Prior to stepping into coaching, Ibanez built a strong career as a player at Salem State. His career as a Viking includes two Final Four appearances. In 1995, Ibanez was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame.
“My playing days at Salem State were great,” Ibanez said. “We had a great team that went to the Final Four two straight seasons. We made a lot of noise.”
From his playing days at Salem State, Ibanez learned the importance and value of team cohesiveness and camaraderie. Those are two of the intangibles that Ibanez holds dear as a coach today.
“The discipline and camaraderie that existed is something that I try to bring into the teams that I coach now,” Ibanez said. “It’s a lot easier to play together. If you tackle one of us, you tackle the whole team. We won a lot of games because of our cohesiveness and I want to bring that along as a coach.”
He added, “I loved every single one of those three years because of that cohesiveness and that level of team play first. Those years were great and I try to bring that level of success to the teams I coach. It’s not a one-player show.”
After a few years away from the field, Ibanez realized that he had the itch to coach again. Now that he’s stepped back on the sidelines, Ibanez is ready to start a new, but familiar, challenge.
“I’m looking forward to this challenge,” Ibanez said. “I thought I wasn’t going to miss it but I found myself going to a lot of MIAA tournament games. I found myself at home reading the papers and reading about the upsets. I realized that I missed this.”
Moving forward in his new role, Ibanez is looking to familiarize himself with Swampscott’s strengths and weaknesses in the preseason. He believes that it’s best to adjust his game plans based on what type of team Swampscott will suit in the fall season.
“I’m a coach that’s flexible to the talent that’s on the team,” Ibanez said. “I don’t have a style of play that I go by. That style has to be given to you by the players. We’ll evaluate the players in the preseason. That’s given to us by the team.”
Ibanez was able to attend a few NEC games last season and came away fairly impressed with the level of talent within the conference. With that said, the new coach knows his team will have to be prepared in order to compete in a tough NEC.
“I’ve noticed that the strong teams in the NEC are very strong,” Ibanez said. “I went to a few games and I saw that level of play from the players. It’s impressive. If you’re a college coach looking for players, you can find a few in the NEC. We’ll have a plan to attack every game as is.”