Career Change - The Explorer: Sports

Career Change

Accountant's left turn leading Marana girls' soccer toward winning path

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Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:03 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

After 15 years’ work as an accountant, Dan Tarquin’s sense of satisfaction lie buried under red ink.

Joy sprung not from itemizations, but inbounding drills; from hours spent coaching his boys’ soccer team.

So Tarquin unplugged.

The mathematician abandoned his number-crunching job, started teaching algebra at Marana High School, and lucked into the vacated head coaching slot for the oft-maligned varsity girls’ soccer team.

Farming his hair back into a ponytail and resuscitating his drummer’s chops along the way, to anchor a classic rock cover band, seemed simple enough.

Keeping 22 girls from text messaging during practice proved a different matter.

“We got a hold of that early. It was a steep learning curve my first year coaching girls,” Tarquin conceded.

Sheer perhaps — but not so much as the Lady Tigers’ record improved. Two years back, the girls towed a 2-18 ledger.

Last season they rose to 8-8-5.

And that was after they took a talented Canyon Del Oro squad for an 88-minute regional ride, losing in the final minute of their last game.

“It was a huge turnaround,” Tarquin said.  “But we could’ve done better.”

As Tarquin’s second shift rolls around, practices bear a sense of hope and energy, if not immediacy, along Sandario Road. Blame the lagging hair of August’s Dog Days — and 95-degree sunset temperatures — for the easygoing nature of last week’s scrimmages.

Foes shouldn’t expect calm treatment, though, from sophomore duo Nikki and Jessie Koeppen. The identical twins posted on opposite ends of the field bear raw speed that figures heavily into Marana’s plan.

The pair proved their nerve last year during a 7-0 loss to Salpointe, striving to keep the Tigers’ flag upright while “getting run over,” in Tarquin’s words.

“Sometimes I had to go out onto the field and make sure their heads were still attached to their shoulders,” Tarquin said.  “But they popped right back up.”

The Koeppens and their teammates are tired of sitting at the bottom of Marana’s sporting hierarchy — and can’t wait to increase respect from classmates, and Tarquin.

“It’s going to take more work than last year, but we can do better because he’s the only coach that’s stuck with us,” Nikki Koeppen said.

The team holds promise. Of last year’s entire squad, only six graduated and nine were freshmen.

On his end, Tarquin didn’t spend the entire summer working on snare triplets.

Tarquin, also a CDO Soccer Club coach, spent six days in Chicago’s humidity with 33 collegiate coaches, completing the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s national diploma.

CDO director Steve Wallace said the training solidified Tarquin from novice instructor to a “student of the game,” helping to develop four new CDO Soccer teams in Marana and Continental Ranch.

“He was willing to listen and to get educated so he could give more to the kids,” Wallace said.

Tarquin’s shift required sacrifice, after dumping a fat corporate paycheck. His wife expressed an occasional worry as he cut down on clothing purchases, and the like.

Watching the girls gel on the grass, the coach was content.

“You have to make adjustments in your lifestyle,” Tarquin said.  “We made close to a 50 percent reduction, but I got more than 50 percent back.”

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