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BILLINGS – Rob Zimmerman found himself without any soccer responsibilities this past fall. For a guy who had been active in the sport for the past 20 years or so, it was quite a change for the 1989 Billings West graduate.

“That was hard not to be around it,” Zimmerman said Tuesday after he was hired as the new coach for the Billings West girls program. “This fall it was definitely a void without having any soccer to follow that I was directly in involved with. I’m excited to get back into it.”

The combination of Zimmerman and the Golden Bears program seems to be a perfect fit. In his previous job, Zimmerman took the Great Falls CMR girls to the Class AA state tournament all five seasons he was there, winning it all in his final season of 2014. West’s girls, meanwhile, have reached the state tournament each of the past four seasons under Casey Marlenee, who stepped down last December.

Until this past season, the Bears had reached the semifinals three years in a row.

“West has a great program,” Zimmerman said. “I’m excited to step in and continue the tradition and the success that they’ve had and put my own stamp on it and see what we can do.”

Zimmerman, who is the regional manager for Carpet Garage since moving back to Billings three years ago, isn’t sure what that stamp will be. Other than watching the Bears play CMR a few times the past couple years, his knowledge of returning players is slim.

But that’s OK, he said.

“We’ll both be green going in,” Zimmerman said of himself and the players. “We’ll figure it out from here on in. There’s no outside bias or anything like that. We both come in with a clean slate, and hopefully we’ll gel quickly as a program.”

Zimmerman also coached the CMR boys for 12 seasons. After leaving CMR in 2015, Zimmerman spent the falls of 2016 and 2017 watching his daughter, Ali, wrap up her career for Carroll College.

Now, he said, he’s got the itch for coaching again and is glad to have something to do in the fall.

“It’s not broken,” Zimmerman said of the West program. “It’s an honor to be able to step in and to hopefully continue the tradition and build on the program they already have in place.”

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