By Bob Narang
When it comes to school pride, it’s pretty safe to say Stagg girls soccer coach Allison Kaim has Charger blood running through her system.
The 2010 graduate from the Palos Hills school starred all four years on the soccer field and earned all-state honors her senior season.
“When I was younger, I always dreamed of playing and coaching at Stagg,” said Kaim, who went on to play at Eastern Michigan. “It’s kind of funny, because when I was a senior, I was voted most likely to return to Stagg as a teacher.
“Even when I was a student, I told everyone I wanted to come back to Stagg. It was home for me. I really wanted to be a part of the Stagg program, so right now it’s really cool for my family.”
Indeed, the Kaim family is heavily engrained in the program and overall Stagg community. Brittany, a 2006 graduate, started the Kaim soccer tradition. She was followed by Julie, a 2008 graduate. Julie and Allison, both all-state standouts, also played together at Eastern Michigan.
Their father, John, has been a big supporter of the program and was a volunteer baseball coach at Stagg last season. In addition, Allison’s mother, Cheryl, was known throughout the community for her support.
Cheryl was diagnosed with cancer when Allison was a senior at Stagg. She passed away in September 2011, but her memory is kept alive through an annual Red Card Cancer Match.
“One of the reasons why Stagg is so near and dear to my heart is because of my mom,” Allison said. “She was known within the whole program.”
In Allison’s first season as head coach last spring, the Chargers returned six starters from a 13-win team in 2016, but suffered a 3-0 defeat to Sandburg in a Class 3A regional championship. This season, with nearly the entire team back, all signs point to Stagg having the right ingredients for a special run.
“This year should be a really strong season for us,” said Allison, who along with her sisters played club for Windy City Pride growing up. “We’ll have a lot of depth within our program and experienced players.
“A number of seniors have been starting on the varsity since their freshman season. That’s why we have a lot of leadership on the team. The girls are eager for the season to start. They can’t wait, because they believe this is going to be their year.”
Senior forward Angelina Kosmas, a four-year varsity player, has noticed a difference in the program with the family-oriented coach at the helm.
“We’re going to have a lot of talent this year, and we’re going to be a hard team to beat this season,” Kosmas said. “Coach has a great background, and we loved her last season. She’s really helped all of us.”
One reason for the optimism surrounding the program is due to the large number of returnees. Ten seniors are back, along with a talented group of juniors and underclassmen, including junior Sydney Downs.
The athletic goalie is one of the top netminders in the Midwest in the 2019 class. Downs will need to come up big if the Chargers hope to make a tournament run in the PepsiCo Showdown and then conference play.
“We were successful last year, but we’re going to be even more successful this spring,” Kosmas said.
Other key players to keep an eye on include: Emily Stefan, Angelina Kosmas and her twin sister, Erini, Grace Javaras, Veronika Stafira and Maja Persa.
“It’s a good problem to have so many players coming back,” Kaim said. “The Stagg motto has always been blue-collar soccer. These girls give 100 percent, day in and day out.”