Veteran Loch Raven High boys soccer coach Joe Fiedler said he was "surprised" when he was selected to succeed Rich Zinkand as the men's soccer coach at the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex on Feb. 17.
"I applied, but I didn't know what my chances were," said Fiedler, who guided the Raiders to the 2009 Class 1A state title and two other final appearances. "Then I had a second interview and I got the job."
Fiedler said he had some misgivings about making the move after 15 successful years at the Loch Raven helm and being named the 2005 National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) State Coach of the Year and the 2011 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Small School Coach of the Year.
The CCBC-Essex alumnus earned a Bachelor's degree in computer information systems from the University of Baltimore and works fulltime for a software company.
"In all honesty, it's a tough place to leave. I love Loch Raven, but this is a great opportunity," he said. "It's time for a change."
Fiedler said replacing Zinkand won't be easy.
"Richie did a phenomenal job at Essex," Fiedler said, noting that his son, Tim, played for Zinkand at CCBC-Essex before replacing Andy Moore at Calvert Hall. "It will be difficult to match his record. But if I didn't think I could do it, I wouldn't have taken the job."
Fiedler added that the biggest change he will face is recruiting.
"At Loch Raven, the team recruited itself," he said. "And kid who wanted to be on a successful team at Loch Raven felt safe coming out for soccer because we were always pretty good."
Fiedler said that his next move is to start networking with local club and high school coaches.
"I'm pretty well connected with club coaches," he said. "Through word of mouth, you hear where kids might be going (to college). Then you communicate with them. I already have a pretty good list of kids. I just have to work at it."
There were only 10 freshmen on the 2011 CCBC roster eligible to play in their final year, including local products Gregory Bishop (Eastern Tech) and, Angelo Fellini (Loch Raven) on a team that went 12-2-3 and bowed in a Region XX semifinal to the College of Southern Maryland on penalty kicks.
Spring practice begins Feb. 28, and, despite not having many holdovers, he said he expects a slew of hopefuls to show up for tryouts.