Renowned coach to create new women’s soccer program at local community college

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Victor Popovsky got an opportunity he just couldn’t pass up, no matter how hard it would be to leave Fontbonne Hall.

The Bonnies’ girls soccer coach of the last eight years recently accepted the job of starting a women’s soccer program at Kingsborough Community College next season. Popovsky said he struggled with the decision to stay or go, but ultimately knew he couldn’t turn his back on a chance to coach at the collegiate level.

“This connection with Fontbonne is always going to be there,” Popovsky said. “I’ve known these girls since they were eight years old. I know their families. Fontbonne will always be in my heart, but I have to move on.”

He leaves a legacy of unparalleled success at the small, all-girl, Bay Ridge Catholic School. Popovsky led the Bonnies to five Brooklyn-Queens championships during his tenure, and six title games. He also coached the Sheepshead Bay girls team in 2011, and its boys squad in 2012, before returning to the Bonnies full time this school year.

Popovsky led the Sharks girls to the Public School Athletic League Class B semifinals in 2011, but it was at Fontbonne where he really left his mark.

“Now Fontbonne has a name,” Popovsky said.

His success made him an attractive and highly recommended candidate for Kingsborough, which is just six blocks from his home. Popovsky, who plays a particularly aggressive style of soccer, has already begun building the program, and has conducted preseason workouts twice a week after close to 40 girls came out. Many played soccer in their native countries — which include Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala and Grenada — but he still needs to refresh their memories.

“There are some girls who haven’t played in a while,” Popovsky said. “I need to get them in shape. They have the fundamenta­ls.”

There have been some early challenges. The program won’t have an official budget until the summe,r and the players’ course schedules don’t always allow for regular attendance at all the workouts. A number of them come to one and not the other, so only 10–12 girls come all the time. Popovsky, as always, remains optimistic.

“It’s looking good,” he said, “I’m getting nice players.”

The Bonnies will move on without Popovsky as they work on returning to championship form after missing the title game the last two years with the emergence of Christ the King and the return of Mary Louis. Junior varsity coach Frank Saricca will move up to take over the varsity squad next season with remaining assistant coach Brendan Ryan, according to school athletic director Donna Schirripa. She is happy to have Saricca, whom she describes as an excellent teacher of the game, but she appreciates everything Popovsky did for, and meant to the program.

“Victor was great for the program,” she said. “The girls enjoy him. He made it very easy to be successful. I’m going to miss him, but it is what it is. Everyone has to move on.”

Popovsky plans on still attending Fontbonne games when he can, and he has plenty of faith in new coaching staff.

“I’m sure they’re still going to win,” Popovsky said.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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