NANAIMO — The man who's been the face of VIU men's Mariners soccer is stepping aside.
Coach Bill Merriman leaves the program after nine very successful seasons and on the heels of a national championship on home turf in Nanaimo.
Merriman says the decision was made a long time ago.
"It's a decision I made about a year ago. Because I thought it was time, I've been there for nine years and I want to do some other things in the summer and work on a few other soccer programs," said Merriman.
The onfield accomplishments have been many for the outgoing coach.
VIU won national gold medals in 2010 and 2017, to go along with CCAA medal performances in 2011, 2012, and 2014.
He was named PACWEST coach of the year in 2009, 2011, and 2014 - Merriman also received the CCAA National Coaching Excellence Award in 2011.
When asked about his favour moment, Merriman reflected on the shared time he's had with his family through the VIU soccer program.
"I got the opportunity to coach with (son) Jamie for a couple of years and I then I also coached with Chris. I got to coach my son Chris as well on the team, and coach Tyler. I was with the whole family all the time. My wife Cheryl is heavily involved too. I think that was one of the biggest things - having such a family atmosphere in a high level program," Merriman said.
It's not just having the chance to be around family for Merriman, he explains that being around the players is one of the things he'll miss the most.
Player recruiting for the 2018 season is well underway and Merriman is hoping to work with whoever the new coach is for a smooth transition.
He is keen to be a part of the process to find his replacement.
At the upcoming Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards there could be a couple more awards added to the Merriman legacy with VIU's soccer program.
The Mariners men's team is up for Team of the Year and Merriman is a finalist for High Performance Coach of the Year.
Whether the awards come or not, there will be plenty of well wishes from the local sporting community for Merriman as he moves on to the next chapter of his career.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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