Just incase our audience hasnít heard the big news, can you tell us why you
and the menís soccer team has been celebrating recently?
Wesleyan captured its first ever New England Small College Athletic
Conference (NESCAC) Championship in any sport when the menís soccer team
defeated Amherst and Williams in the same weekend. As the No. 7 seed in the
tournament, we upset No. 2 Bowdoin in the first round before going on to
defeat No. 1 Williams in the semi-finals and then No. 4 Amherst in the
finals. The victory over Williams marked the first triumph over the Williams Ephs since
1992. With the championship came an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III
tournament, another first for the program. The menís team defeated
Muhlenberg in a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory before falling to No. 1 seed
and defending national champs Messiah 2-1 in overtime in the second round.
Who were your key players?
A: Accompanying the success came some appropriate post-season honors, including NESCAC Rookie of the Year for Matt Nevin í09, who finished the campaign with
nine goals and five assists. Earning 2nd Team All-NESCAC honors
was Jared Ashe í07, who made the move from forward to defender early in the
I heard you were honored by your peers, as well
They named me the NESCAC Coach of the Year.
In 2004, Wesleyan qualified for its fifth consecutive NESCAC tournament,
earning a top four spot and a home playoff game for the first time in the
program's history. At that point did you foresee the team making it so far
Although we graduated a strong class of eight seniors from the 2005 team,
this 2005 squad had all the talent to make the run we did. We certainly had
questions at the beginning of the year but the players answered them all
with undeniable commitment and certainty. Our co-captain seniors Noah Isaacs
Ď06 and Kevin Lohela Ď06 did a fantastic job leading this young but talented
When were you hired at Wesleyan as the head menís soccer coach? How did you
feel stepping into the shoes of long-time head coach Terry Jackson, who
might accurately be regarded as a legend in the annals of Wesleyan soccer?
A: I was
hired as the menís coach in the spring of 1999. And what an honor to succeed
Terry Jackson, not only a legend in Wesleyan soccer lore but also an icon in
the soccer community at large. In fact, when I was a senior in high school,
I visited Wesleyan and met with Coach Jackson. I remember how friendly and
warm he was as we toured Wesleyan. Never did I think I would have the
opportunity to return not as a student but as a coach. Just as Coach Jackson
was so kind during my high school days, he has been equally supportive as I
have attempted to carry on the strong Wesleyan soccer tradition he built.
At Dartmouth, you were a four-year letter-winner
in soccer, helping the squad qualify for the NCAA tournament twice as well
as capture two Ivy League titles. What skills and lessons do you bring from
your own experience and stress to your team?
what we do. Itís the wee things.Ē These quotes sum up the lessons I learned
at Dartmouth and what I try to pass on to my players every day. When we
play, we try to focus all our energy on our work rate, our attitude and our
reaction to adversity. Thereís not much we can do about the referee, the
weather, the field or even the other team so we focus on what we can
control. When we travel, we look sharp in coats and ties. We leave a clean
locker room after a game, a clean bench.
What did you major in at Dartmouth? What made you decide to become a coach?
I was a history major at Dartmouth with a concentration on 20th
century American history. I decided to coach when I realized that I may be
lucky enough to do it for a living. Itís hard to believe I get paid for what
I do. I had so many good coaches growing up that when it came time to figure
out a direction I wanted to take, I thought of those people who had
influenced me most - my coaches. It was a natural progression from playing
the game I love to also coaching it.
college, you played in Zimbabwe? What other teams did you play for before
becoming a coach?
college, I had a unique opportunity to play in Zimbabwe where my college
coach had actually previously coached. For a year, I played for the Bulawayo
Highlanders, a member of the SuperLeague in Zimbabwe. When I returned to the
States, I had stints with several semi-pro teams, including the Cape Cod
Crusaders of the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues (USISL), as
well as the Connecticut Wolves and the Boston Bulldogs of the A-League. Now,
I play for an over-30s team based in Westport and am constantly reminded it
always looks pretty easy from the sideline!
Q: I understand you have played soccer professionally, even while you were
coaching at Wesleyan. How would you describe that experience?
When I first arrived at Wesleyan, I thought I could both play at a high
level and coach at Wesleyan. I played in Boston for a short time after I
arrived, making the commute up I-84 three to four times a week. When the
Wesleyan season approached in August, I had to stop playing and commit
myself to the team here. The next year I joined the local team, the Wolves.
On both teams, I was exposed to different coaches and different styles,
picking up bits and pieces that I could bring back to the Wesleyan squad.
Ultimately, I needed to step away from my playing days to become a more
effective coach but I certainly think my professional playing experience has
helped develop my coaching abilities.
currently hold a United States Soccer Federation license and received an
advanced national diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of
America in 1998. Are these required to coach?
Fortunately, you do not need a license to coach, but it does help when you
are applying for jobs! I currently have an ĎAí license from the United
States Soccer Federation and was recently awarded a Premier Diploma from the
National Soccer Coaches Association of America in January of 2005.
As a player at Dartmouth and an assistant coach at Stanford, you have always
been around high-achieving college athletes. How do Wesleyan's
student-athletes compare with those you have seen at these other colleges?
Wesleyan student-athletes hold the same values I encountered at both
Dartmouth and Stanford. They are all highly-motivated individuals who excel
on and off the field.
Q: Are you
still the co-director of the East Coast Soccer Academy?
How long have you be
A: Yes, I
am still co-director. It was founded in the summer of 2001 when Brian
Tompkins, the Yale Menís Soccer Coach, and I decided we wanted to bring top
student-athletes to our campuses and expose them to our schools as well as
our coaching staffs. Both of us have benefited immensely from the camp and
there are currently over 10 graduates of the East Cost Soccer Academy on the
How did you get into the sport? How old were you?
I first started playing when I was 5-years-old. I started playing with the
Vista Vampires in Portland, Oregon and have played ever since.
In addition to coaching, what physical education classes do you teach as an
adjunct assistant professor of physical education? Do you enjoy working with
students at all skill levels?
I currently teach squash and indoor technical climbing. Itís great to get to
know another part of the Wesleyan student body through the PE classes. The
rate of improvement is often great among the students who take the classes Ė
itís always enjoyable to teach a sport to someone who has never tried it,
whether itís soccer, squash or climbing.
Q: Rumor has it that you have become quite a squash player since arriving at
Wesleyan while serving as the men's assistant coach. Is squash now your
number two sport behind soccer?
Squash is a great winter game. After years of chasing the ball around the
court trying to keep up with the college kids, I have managed to learn a few
things along the way. Former squash and tennis coach Don Long was a great
teacher when I first started and now I enjoy competitive games with several
other coaches as well as a few faculty members up campus.
Is it true you met your wife at Wesleyan? And I hear your son, Sam, is the
darling of the athletic department.
Holly, who is the head coach of the womenís Lacrosse team, and I started
working at Wesleyan at the same time, seven years ago! Unbelievable that is
was that long ago now. Our boy Sam of 15 months is often seen raging up and
down the hallways of the offices, eager to find new playmates. If you offer
him some food, you will find an immediate friend.
Tell me about your hobbies and interests outside of coaching and teaching.
Outside of coaching and teaching, I spend a lot of time with family. Hollyís
folks live in Boston and mine are up in Maine so we love to go visit them. I
have a sister who teaches at Suffield, just over 45 minutes away, and a twin
brother in Philly who has three children. Home projects often take up a lot
of time as well, including a new deck, a re-finished basement and the taking
down of trees in the backyard. When Holly and I find the time, we enjoy
taking our kayaks out for a paddle on the nearby lakes. But most of all, we
love spending time with Sam!