In a time when youth is the byword in the organization, the Baltimore Blast yesterday re-signed veteran defender Mike Stankovic and also named him a player/assistant coach.
"We're doing a lot of restructuring both on and off the field, and this was a logical choice to make," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper. "Mike has been a very good company man who is well-respected by young players."
Stankovic, 34, had 23 goals and 30 assists last season in his
second stint with the Blast. He has more service (7 1/2 years) with the team than any other player, although he spent two years with the Wichita Wings after becoming a free agent.
"Obviously, you can't play forever," said Stankovic. "I look at this as a very challenging situation. I think it's going to be nice working with younger players and giving something back."
He would not speculate on how much playing he will do, but Cooper hopes he can be part of a revival.
"Mike can still play, but I see his role changing," said Cooper. "We'll use him somewhat differently. In some games, he'll play, in some he won't.
"We're coming off a disappointing year, but we're all excited. Our aim is to turn it around right away and Mike can help us do that."
Stankovic replaces Jim Pollihan, who resigned to coach at Harrisburg of the National Professional Soccer League, as the assistant coach. The dual position will also aid in the cost-cutting process the league is undergoing.
Stankovic played with the Blast from 1981-82 through 1986-87 before leaving for Wichita. He returned in a trade in January of last year.
"This is something we feel very comfortable with," said Cooper.