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Kids on the Pitch: Plum Boys Soccer Head Coach Rafal Kolankowski

In this week’s edition of Kids on the Pitch (Scholastic and Youth Soccer Podcast), it’s a Point Park College 1990s reunion as PSN’s John Krysinsky brings on Plum boys head coach Rafal Kolankowski.

Kolankowski’s Plum squad is off to a strong, 3-0-1 start after two weeks, including a big 2-0 win last Thursday against section rival Franklin Regional.

You can also listen to Kids on the Pitch and our other PSN Podcast, Sounding Off on Soccer, on Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Among the topics discussed on the Kids on the Pitch podcast included:

  • Plum’s positive start to the 2022 against tough competition
  • Measuring up a very deep group of strong teams contending in Class 3A this season
  • A look back at how WPIAL Soccer has evolved over the years, since Kolankowski was a player in the late 1980s and early 1990s, seeing multiple generations of players from the same families circling through playing at same high schools and leagues as their parents
  • Experience of staying home, and playing at Point Park, when the soccer program was still in its early years where Kolankowski played and later coached in the early-to-mid 1990s
  • Approach to coaching young players and keeping their priorities in check
  • And much more

Raf Kolankowski (left) with PSN’s John Krysinsky (C) and Oli Theodorrsen (r), when they made up the coaching staff for Point Park University’s men’s soccer team in August 1998 after a scrimmage vs Duquesne. The child in the photo is six-month old Jason Krysinsky.

A member of Point Park University’s Pioneer Hall of Fame, Kolankowski was exactly what Point Park needed in order to reverse its winless history. After breaking numerous scoring records at Allderdice High School, Kolankowski stayed home to play for Point Park’s soccer program which started a few years before, but had yet to even post a win. Within his first two years at the university, he not only helped lead the team to its first victory ever, but also helped the program build a credible image.  Because of these achievements, Kolankowski was honored by being the first soccer player and foreign born player to be inducted into the Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame.

Being a native of Poland, a country whose national pastime is soccer, it is no surprise that he grew up playing the game.   At Point Park he soared, starting every game and serving as team captain for three seasons. Kolankowski’s Point Park career did not end at graduation.  He returned as an assistant soccer coach, where he helped guide the Pioneers to first-ever program berth in the NAIA Playoffs and winning  seasons. Kolankowski also continued his education, receiving his MBA at the university.

In his fourth season as the Head Coach at Plum, Kolankowski has guided the Mustangs to three section titles and twice to the WPIAL semifinal round, including last year’s classic overtime duel with West Allegheny.

 

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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