2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Woodland Park turns to councilman for boys’ soccer

Published: June 24, 2014, 4:33 pm, by Scott Kaniewski

The last several months have been busy ones for Woodland Park city councilman Noel Sawyer. Monday night made an already crowded schedule even busier for the recently elected official.

Sawyer was hired to take over the Woodland Park boys’ soccer program, following Andrew Pappadakis who stepped down in the spring. Pappadakis coached the boys’ program for nine seasons and is still the girls’ coach.

Sawyer enters as a neophyte to the prep coaching scene. Sawyer, who has played all his life, has been a player-coach in men’s leagues but has never coached high school student-athletes. He’s hoping that won’t matter.

“The first thing I’d like to do is change the perception of the town up there and the soccer program,” Sawyer said Tuesday. “There are a lot of great players up here. They’ve been pushed aside, they’re talent hasn’t been brought out.”

Woodland Park has struggled in recent years to say the least. The Panthers have just one winning season over the last five, going a combined 17-51-4. The Panthers were winless in 2012 with a 0-14-1 record. Their last winning season came in 2010 when they went 7-6-1.

Sawyer received all-state recognition as a high school player in Ohio in the 1980s. He also played club soccer at the University of Colorado before playing on scholarship at Colorado-Colorado Springs in the early ’90s. 

“I feel like I can bring that high level to Woodland Park, the skills and knowledge of the game,” said Sawyer, who joined city council three months ago. “I want them to feel like they are coming into a true program that’s going to give them that competitive edge in the future. “I want people to go, ‘We have to play Woodland Park next week, we have to get ready for them.’ That’s what I want to hear. Hopefully, I can bring that to the table.”

When Sawyer gets to meet his players, he’s hoping to sit down with them and find out what they want and what they expect from him. He wants to help them get college scholarships the way he did.

“I am looking very forward to being the head coach,” he said. “I can’t wait to meet the kids and meet the parents. I’m very, very excited about this.”