If you have been on Indeed lately, maybe searching for a summer internship or a job after graduation, you may have noticed that a job listing has been posted for the head Men’s Soccer coach here at Willamette. While you are definitely not qualified for the job, someone who is will be leading one of Willamette’s most successful sports programs next fall, as Coach Sam Adelman has resigned as head coach of Bearcat Men’s Soccer.
Adelman has been with Willamette soccer for over ten years now, starting in 2012 as a player and graduating with the class of 2016. After spending a brief period away from the school, he came back to campus as assistant coach of the Women’s team in 2017. He became assistant coach for the Men’s and Women’s teams the following year.
While Adelman enjoyed his time as an assistant, he had his eyes on the head position. “Knowing that you're the person truly leading and making every decision for the program was something that I was looking forward to for a long time,” he stated. He was promoted to head coach following the departure of Jared Rust in 2021 and enjoyed an especially successful run with the Men’s team. Adelman noted that he was able to dedicate special priority to the program because, unlike his two predecessors, he did not have children during his time as head coach. He feels he was able to be more present, be in the office more, and travel to recruit more athletes as a result.
Having success in an athletic program on a college campus is hard enough, but having continuous winning seasons is even harder to do. Between his three seasons as head coach, he sported a record of 34-18-5. A lot of moving pieces need to come together for this to happen. Adelman believes another big part of his continued success is the people around him. “We did a really good job building a staff. That spoke to where we were as a program and what we continued to do to push the envelope in the right areas.” Between this and scheduling nationally ranked opponents, Willamette Men’s Soccer has turned into one of the top or at least one of the most recognized DIII programs on the West Coast.
This season was a bit of a hangover of a year after 2022’s Northwest Conference Championship success. The Bearcats finished fourth, failing to make it to the regional tournament. However, you can’t blame this year's shortcomings purely on performance. The team was riddled with injuries all year. “Sports have the power to humble you. The group that the new head coach has will rally together and will be ready to get back after it,” Adelman said.
This end of Adelman’s chapter at Willamette is taking him to new, uncertain and exciting pastures. His fiancée, Whitney Pitalo, has been coaching women’s college soccer for several years after playing Pac-12 soccer at the University of Southern California and has been offered the job to coach as an assistant for the women’s team at Boston College. Boston competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which is widely regarded as the cream of the crop for Division I women’s soccer, so the two will be moving.
Moving away from the people that he has made great relationships with here over the past few years is hard for Adelman. “Leaving this chapter and closing this was one of the hardest things that I have done. I don’t know what’s next for me but I am looking and interviewing and things have been progressing.” He and Pitalo will be getting married at the end of the year.