New flag football team names Wickman head coach

As the first CIF girls flag football team at TPHS begins its historic season, Ryland Wickman, a former professional football player and coach, has stepped up to the challenge as the team’s head coach.

Wickman, who played football, lacrosse, track and soccer in high school, went on to play college ball at Sacramento State. He went on to play six years of professional football with the Canadian Football League. He also coached high school football for about 13 years, including stints at TPHS and La Costa Canyon High School. Prior to being tapped to coach flag football, he had been coaching softball at TPHS for 12 years, which he will continue to do. Wickman is also an educational specialist for the special education program at TPHS.

Approached by TPHS Athletic Director Charlenne Falcis-Stevens about the position, Wickman saw coaching flag football as an opportunity to reconnect with the sport he played for so many years.

“I’ve been itching to coach football again,” Wickman said. “I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to get in there coaching football again without as much of a time commitment as boy’s football now.”

With nearly 100 girls trying out, Wickman decided to keep everyone for the inaugural year of the program, splitting the girls into varsity, JV gold and JV cardinal teams.

Now, with 97 players split into three teams, Wickman said he did not expect as much interest for the new CIF sport. Wickman described the experience as “very exciting and awesome.”

Wickman has two assistant coaches, Julia Johnson and Pamela Kalinoski. Johnson has worked at TPHS as a psychologist for around 11 years and Kalinoski has been assistant head coach for TPHS varsity girls soccer for the past two seasons. Coaching a new sport, Wickman said he is currently developing his approach to mentoring the team.

“It’s awesome because I’ve been lucky to coach many athletes here,” Wickman said. “When I’m coaching the boys [football team] I’m a little louder and then I’m a little more tame with the girls [softball and flag football teams]. But other than that, I go in with the same intensity.”

Wickman is thrilled to be the coach and hopes to build an exceptional program for the very first CIF flag football team at TPHS. So far the team has seen victories against Vista High School and Scripps Ranch High School, getting off to a 2-0 start. The team’s next game is against Santa Fe Christian on September 21 at home.

photos by Hope Dennis/Falconer

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