One of the greats is retiring and Eastside FC would like to recognize Tom Bunnell for all of his hard work and contributions over his illustrious 22+ year career here at the club. He has had many achievements both on and off the field. He played soccer at Mercer Island High School and Western Washington University as a goalkeeper and has been involved in coaching the next generation of great soccer players ever since. He also coached at Issaquah High School, winning five state championships and 23 coach of the year awards during his time there. For Eastside, Tom has been a goalkeeper coach and the coach of several teams.
Tom Bialek said: “Tom is a very enthusiastic leader of young people. The culture he has created within the goalkeeper training group(s) is unique. Every goalie, independent of age or team level, is accepted by their peers and made to feel part of the goalkeeper ‘team’. This camaraderie is the foundation of a great learning environment that is also a lot of fun!”
Tom’s main roles here at Eastside have been the Director of Goalkeeping and College Coordinator. Tom has contributed to making Eastside into a great environment that develops youth soccer players into champions on the field and in life.
Executive Director, Chance Fry added: “Tom has been an integral part of our club with college recruitment and especially our goalkeepers, taking them to an amazing level, creating a culture that brings out an immense sense of pride in what they do. Tom is a great friend and will be missed but certainly not forgotten.”
Tom has played a valuable role in building Eastside FC into what it is today. He helped a small group of teams and shaped it into one of the biggest and most prestigious youth soccer clubs in the area. The list of Tom’s accomplishments as a director and coach at both the club and high school level is endless. Perhaps his most important accolade however is creating a culture of excellence, learning, and becoming champions in life here at Eastside.
“I love the outlook Eastside FC has on the game and I try to make sure to emulate that in the training of the goalkeepers. We are a family and we look out for each other. We have fun and work hard at our sessions. Eastside FC goalkeepers are consistently going on to play at fantastic colleges around the country,” said Bunnell. “The thing I am most proud of is the number of keepers that come back to coach with us and 3 of them are now Directors of Goalkeeping with Joe Mondello taking up where I have ended. Joe will be amazing for Eastside.”
“Words cannot express how grateful I am for Tom Bunnell’s leadership and tenure at this club. He fully embodies Eastside FC’s mission of building champions in life. The success of the goalkeeper program under his stewardship, both during my time as a goalkeeper at Eastside FC and these five past years coaching alongside him, has been remarkable to witness,” said Joseph Mondello. “I’ve learned so much from Tom, and it is humbling to take over a program with such a positive, supportive culture. This club has meant everything to me since I first joined as a player 11 years ago and I hope that I can follow in Tom’s footsteps.”
Tom has coached youth soccer for 38 years now, 22 of those at Eastside. He was brought on in 1997 and began coaching in 2000 and the rest is history. Tom became the first college coordinator here at the club and has helped countless players continue their journey with the sport at the next level. These lasting connections with those he has coached have been the best part for him and that goes to show how much impact he has had on players, parents, and coaches over the years.
Tom went on to say: “My most rewarding aspect of my time at EFC was my work as the Director of Goalkeeping. To see the growth of goalkeepers from 10 years old to 18 years old and beyond is very satisfying and fun. We have built a culture in our Goalkeeping at EFC. Known as the GK Fam, players know that you are part of another team. You care about each other, you root for each other. Gender doesn’t matter, goalkeeping does. We have even had prom dates come out of our group! To see the successes of our program and to see players come back to coach with me is an honor. We can boast that three of our Goalkeepers who played at EFC, coached with me and now are Directors of Goalkeeping at three large clubs in the area. You know it is a family club when you have married three former Eastside players! (yes, I am an ordained minister)
As I exit coaching and move on, I cannot say how much Eastside FC has meant to me and it is very bittersweet. I could not have worked for a better, more supportive club and for that I am grateful.”
From the entire club and all the past generations of kids that Tom has influenced, we would like to thank him for all of the great work he has done for Eastside FC. He has been an essential part of the team for years and has been a large part of building the club into what it is today. We are proud to forever have Tom as a member of the EFC family and wish him a happy and well-deserved retirement!