NORTH HALEDON — Faced with the growing obligations of being an athletic director, Barry Veenstra knew that something had to go after being both head girls soccer coach and AD at Eastern Christian.
He knew that he could not be a head girls soccer coach, athletic director and head girls basketball coach all at the North Haledon non-public school. During the fall he had an inkling that this would be his last season as a soccer coach.
He even had discussions with his future replacement, Laura Kuiken, a former Eagles player and assistant head coach.
“We sort of were talking secretly with her,” said Veenstra.
Recently he decided that the 2014 girls soccer season would be his last as head coach.
“It was clear last fall that there were too many sports going on in the fall,” said Veenstra.
While leaving the reigns as head girls soccer coach, he will remain as girls head basketball coach.
“During the winter there are not many sports so I can do it,” said Veenstra.
It will be strange this fall because Veenstra has been the head coach except for one year since the inception of the girls soccer program in 1980. He celebrated reaching 400 wins as a girls head soccer coach last fall. Eastern Christian defeated Manchester, 4-0, on Oct. 20.
“It will be strange to be on the other side, but I’m looking forward to it,” said Veenstra.
Unofficially, Veenstra finished with a record of 402-199-48. His last game as head coach was a 1-0 loss to Morris Catholic in the state playoffs.
Looking back on his 34 years, the obvious moments fill the memories of Veenstra who had three state sectional titles as well as a group title in 2007 and a Passaic County title in 2000.
He admitted that he was thinking about hanging up the girls soccer coaching duties two years ago.
“I almost resigned when (his daughter) Carly (Veenstra) graduated, but decided to come back,” said Veenstra. “It was a fun two years.”
Veenstra added that he said that he would not step away from the program unless that had the right person to step into the head coaching position. Kuiken helped Veenstra at Eastern Christian as an assistant coach in 2009 and 2010 and recently was an assistant coach at Bergen Community College.
Veenstra remembers when he started as varsity head coach in 1981 where there were very few high schools in North Jersey that had varsity girls soccer programs.
“It was tough scheduling and we had to face schools like Ramapo and Paramus Catholic,” said Veenstra.
The new head coach, Kuiken, had many good things to say about Veenstra.
“Barry Veenstra has truly left his mark on the Eastern Christian girls soccer program, as well as each player he has coached and each coach he has coached with,” said Kuiken. “He has a passion for the game that is unparalleled in most high school coaches. It was truly an honor to play for him and coach with him. He helped to instill a great work ethic in me, that I am very appreciative of. He also taught me many things about coaching at the high school level, including how to be a leader and an example on and off the field. He will surely be missed, but I know he will be in full support at many games and available for help and insight throughout the season.”
In terms of the girls soccer team, Veenstra said that he is not going to interfere.
“I will keep my hands off the program,” he said.