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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

SBCC soccer teams thrive under John Sisterson’s experience

Kim Grossman
John Sisterson, city college soccer coach and kayking instructor, gets ready to kayak with his students on Tuesday morning, April 26, at the Leadbetter Beach docks in Santa Barbara. Sisterson has been teaching both men and women’s soccer at City College for 12 years and introduced the kayaking class to the college 10 years ago.

Nearly 10 years ago, John Sisterson brought his experience of gold medal wins and collegiate championships to City College soccer.

“When I first came here, my friends couldn’t understand why I left a position at a university to come here,” Sisterson said. “One day I walked up to the top of the stadium and took a few pictures to send them. That answered all their questions.”

After leaving his home country of England in 1998 to pursue a career in coaching, Sisterson first landed a job coaching high school soccer before moving on to West Texas A&M University.

Most notably, he lead the women’s deaflympic team on an undefeated gold medal run in the 2005 games in Sydney, Australia.

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“That was a wonderful experience,” Sisterson said. “We played Russia in the final, which was the last event before the closing ceremonies. Then we came home to a welcome committee.”

Shortly after, Sisterson took the head coaching position for the women’s soccer team at City College and in 2007, he took control of the men’s team.

“The women’s team had some challenges and had never won a championship,” he said. “The men’s team hadn’t won a championship in a while.”

That changed quickly, however as Sisterson led the men’s squad to the conference championships in 2008, 2009 and 2011 in addition to giving the women’s team their first ever conference championship in 2012 and a second win in 2014.

At the same time, he recruited and trained a second deaflympic team but turned down the opportunity to travel with them to Chinese Taipei for the tournament which they ultimately won.

“I didn’t want to leave the two teams here,” Sisterson said. “I was living out of a suitcase. You would return to a hotel room instead of your home.”

The championships and gold medals are nice, says Sisterson, but he finds more enjoyment in bonding with and educating his students.

“It means a lot to me when my students go on to four-year schools,” he said. “I have old players now coaching in places like Boston and Ohio.”

Aside from his duties coaching both soccer teams, Sisterson enjoys spending time on the water with his Ocean Kayaking class, a course he wrote and proposed the idea for.

Sisterson saw the opportunity for a kayaking class, but when he found out the budget wouldn’t allow for purchasing the boats, he took matters into his own hands.

“We give them the key and they get here early in the morning to take out the kayaks,” said Kealoha Slagle who works at Paddle Sports Center. “When Sisterson came up with the idea for the class, he contacted Paddle Sports and arranged to borrow kayaks, solving the budget issue and opening the door for his new class.”

Sisterson leads many students on the water for their first time. “It’s not just about fun, it’s about educating people about the water,” he said.

“It can be scary but he makes you feel comfortable,” said student Mariah Sabo. “He’s very good at instructing and keeping us safe.”

Next year, Sisterson plans to continue teaching the kayaking course and has needs only six more wins to become the winningest coach in City College men’s soccer history.

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