Desert Vista coach Mike Rabasca, middle, voices his displeasure with the referee after a red card was issued on senior Cameron Rabasca.

By Jason P. Skoda, AFN

The only coach Desert Vista boys soccer has had is no longer running the program.

Mike Rabasca recently accepted a position with Toronto FC of Major League Soccer to become the Director of Cognitive Development, according the Desert Vista athletic director T.J. Snyder said.

“He will be greatly missed,” Snyder said. “Probably one of his greatest attribute was the high expectations and level of commitment he demanded from the kids. He is a very good motivator and had very high, but attainable standards.

“He pushed the kids beyond their limits and they responded.”

Snyder said the job opening will be posted this week, as early as Monday, and they hope to find the right candidate in the coming weeks.

Rabasca has run the program since the school opened in 1997-98 and has led the Thunder to three state titles (2002, 2005, 2006) and finished as state runner-up twice (2008, 2013).

His career record is 201-94-21.

Rabasca has shown the ability to get his teams to completely buy into the program and what it means to play for the Thunder through trips to California for a soccer tournament  and team bonding or honoring a former player with events like the Aaron Brandt Soccer Tennis Tournament.

"His ability to connect with us will be what I remember most," senior Andrew Sweeney said. "He will forever be the smartest coach I have ever had on and off the field. His discipline from the past three years has transformed my work ethic and mental strength by showing myself that as long as I keep pushing and but my mind to something with the correct attitude I can accomplish anything."

Rabasca’s position is believed to be one of a kind for North American sports franchise and as he will work with any player in the organization that has suffered a concussion or brain injury.

He has worked closely with the South West Advanced Neurological Rehabilitation (SWAN) as an occupational therapist and Brain Injury Alliance. His experience includes staff and supervisory roles within the inpatient Neurorehab unit and staff therapist within the inpatient acute and clinical outpatient settings at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, according to his bio on SWAN’s website.

Rabasca will still have his hand on the pitch as well. He will be an assistant coach to all their youth academy teams.

Messages with Rabasca weren’t returned.

But the messages he tried to send his players were rarely missed.

"We walked on that field as freshmen being boys who just loved the sport of soccer but I now leave the program as a man with a deep understanding of hard work and the passion it takes to achieve my goals," Sweeney added. "I was privileged enough to have such a great man as a coach for three years."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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