TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City West girls soccer program gained a familiar face as its new head coach Friday.

Savanna Wojtanowski, a Titan alumni and former goalkeeper at Michigan State University, was hired to head the girls soccer program Friday.

Chelsea Griesinger stepped away from the program after the cancellation of the spring season and athletic director Jason Carmien knew exactly where to look.

Wojtanowski graduated from West in 2013 and immediately became part of the coaching staff as an assistant post graduation. She spent two years with the Titans from 2014-15 while attending Ferris State University, before transferring to MSU to play goalie and coach in various leagues throughout the Lansing area.

“I’ve always had my hearts with the Titans,” Wojtanowski said. “I always wanted to go back to the school I came from. It is something like a full circle moment to be the coach of the program that I went through.”

Carmien said his programs often look for leaders who come from within the Traverse City West culture and understand what it means to be a Titan.

“We like people that have a knowledge of our kids and know what it is like to play in our programs,” Carmien said. “I think she is ready to take this on and has a passion and knowledge for the game. We lost a lot of seniors and I think the younger girls will be able to relate to her.”

The Titans’ gig is Wojtanowski’s first head coaching job at the high school level but she has spent time with Capital City Athletics, Spartan Goalkeepers and helped run soccer camps in her time at MSU.

In Wojtanowski’s time as a player she set the MSU school record for saves in a game with 14 and spent time in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) reserves, playing alongside women who won the World Cup. Wojtanowski was one of only two women to play full-time in the NWSL while still in college.

“Her playing experience really was the difference for me,” Carmien said of the hire. “The high level of college experience and the time in pro ranks with the NWSL. It was a good fit.”

Wojtanowski said while she has spent her entire life as a goalkeeper, her team’s philosophy will not be based off defense. She said defense is a “huge factor” but that the Titans will present an aggressive attack-style offense under her direction, at least in time.

“I don’t plan to change much, they have been very successful the last couple of years,” Wojtanowski said. “The biggest thing for me is growing them as individuals both on and off the soccer field.”

The new coach said she wants to instill a family-based culture in the Titans program, something she came to know and love while at Michigan State. Carmien was also excited about Wojtanowski’s knowledge on ACL injury prevention and her drive to bring the program to a new level.

“We had a lot of success in the conference but we haven’t been able to get over the hump at the district level,” Carmien said. “That is our next step, we are looking for MHSAA tournament success. We hope 2021 is a fresh start for everyone and Savanna is the one to lead us into that.”

The Titans won the last two Big North Conference titles prior to Griesinger’s departure, and Wojtanowski plans to keep that streak alive and bring the girls program to the level of the boys program.

The TC West boys under Matt Griesinger won their second straight regional title Thursday to move into the state semifinals.

“If we can chase the boys and maker a full soccer program on both sides I will be happy,” Wojtanowski said. “We need to become a little stakeholder in the soccer world from northern Michigan.”

Wojtanowski and her family began building a home in the area and settled back in recently, leading to her interest in the job at TC West.

After spending time in the NWSL, her job at Kraft-Heinz brought her back to the area and she had spoke with Griesinger last spring about possibly joining the program.

Follow Jake on Twitter @JakeAtnip

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