By Jim Newell
Review Staff Writer
Lake Orion has named Christopher Corteg as the new coach for the girls varsity soccer team, and Corteg said he’s looking forward to taking the helm once the season starts this spring.
Corteg is an experienced coach whose career spans 40 years. He was the girls varsity coach at Dakota High School in the Chippewa Valley district the past two years, winning the division and regionals before losing to eventual state champs Stoney Creek.
“Most of my coaching and teaching assignments have been long-term,” Corteg said.
He was the athletic director at Eisenhower High School in Utica Community Schools for the past 10 years, and has spent 38 years as an educator, as a teacher, coach and athletic director.
Before becoming athletic director, he was the boys and girls soccer coach at Eisenhower, and was district coach and MAC coach of the year.
Corteg played college soccer and has coached at the high school and college levels. He also has United States Soccer Federation National B and C level coaching licenses.
But past credentials do not interest Corteg, who said he wants to focus on what’s next.
“I really enjoy my coaching time now,” Corteg said. “When you’re a long-term educator and coach, you get into it for the right reasons – it’s for the kids.”
“There’s value there in helping young people get better,” Corteg said. “I still feel I have enough wisdom to offer young people. I feel I can give them relevant experience, relevant training.”
When the head coach’s position became available at Lake Orion, Corteg said he was immediately interested.
“It’s a nice place. Lake Orion is a special town. Facility-wise you can’t get any better. That’s a big plus,” Corteg said. “And Lake Orion is a pretty tight community that supports its schools and programs.”
Corteg said he knew Bill Reiss as an A.D. and had known about new athletic director Chris Bell.
“I’m a high school sports guy, so I know about Chris Bell. I admire him. I think he’s a good choice (as new athletic director),” Corteg said.
As for the new team, Corteg met with the girls two weeks ago to introduce himself.
“It was short and sweet,” he said. “I’ll meet with the team and the parents before the season starts.”
He said he sees potential in the team and believes the varsity girls can be competitive in their league.
“When you look at their record, they played a lot of good schools and it was close. It’s not like they were getting beat 6-0,” Corteg said.
He added that there are a lot of players returning this year who have had a year to mature as players.
Once training begins, Corteg said his goal is to assess and improve the team athletically and technically and “find out what pieces of the puzzle I have”.
“I don’t think we’ll be overwhelmed. I think we should have some success. My goal is to finish first or second in our division and get out of the lower division and get into the middle divisions.”
And the players should expect that while he wants them to have fun, he also expects a sound work ethic from them. He said he would probably only carry 18 players on the team, not the typical 22 or more players.
“Part of being a coach is being competitive. You want to win. You play hard, you work hard. The game is a pretty good teacher of life,” Corteg said of his coaching philosphy.
“I’ve learned that you’ve got to get a year or so under your belt, get the lay of the land, get familiar with your athletes,” Corteg said.
“We’ll play hard, we’ll play fair, we’ll play to the best of our abilities and do the things we have to do,” he said.