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Head coach Steve Sollom, center, laughs as his team breaks the huddle to close the first day of practice for the Raider boys' soccer team Monday evening at the Hudson Soccer Complex. Sollom returns this season for his second stint as head coach after guiding the Raiders to four state tournament appearances from 1989-2002.

Sollom back as Raider soccer coach

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sports River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Guided team to four state tourneys from 1989-2002

Steve Sollom had a quick answer when asked why he decided to return as Raider boys' soccer coach this season.

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"Because Chuck (Bublitz) quit," he said.

Sollom coached the Raiders from 1989-2002, guiding the team to four state tournament appearances and five Big Rivers Conference titles. He said the decision to come back as head coach was an easy one.

"Honestly, I have a strong loyalty to this program," the Hudson High School math teacher said. "I played here, I coached here. It's a great group of kids, and I just thought, there's no reason I can't."

Timing also played into his decision. When Sollom stepped down as head coach following the 2002 season, he had two children preparing to attend River Falls High School, and wanted to be able to spend more time watching them play. He not only got to watch them play in high school, but both went on to successful collegiate careers.

"I got to see my kids play and I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world," he said. "Now they've got their own jobs, and I have the time to do this and the ability to do it, and I think we'll do well."

One thing that has changed since Sollom last coached the Raiders is the start date for high school soccer. Wisconsin schools started practice this past Monday, Aug. 6, with Hudson's first game scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 14. That doesn't leave a lot of time for Sollom to select a varsity team from the 76 players who turned out for Monday's first workouts.

"This is about two weeks ahead of when I used to coach," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do."

The Raiders will open the season with a pair of home games this Tuesday, Aug. 14. They will host Onalaska at 3 p.m. and La Crosse Aquinas at 6 p.m. at the middle school field. They will head to a weekend Quad Aug. 17-18 at Hartland Arrowhead before opening BRC play Thursday, Aug. 23, at Menomonie.

Sollom said he is excited and optimistic about the team's chances this season.

"It's kind of like it's your baby," he said. "I think we'll do well."

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