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An Interview with Emporia State University Women’s Soccer Head Coach
Welcome back to part two of my interview with Jim Schneiderhahan. In the second half of my interview I talked with him about coaching at Emporia State, the future of his players, goalkeeping, and Americans coaching in Europe.
If you missed the first interview scroll down a wee bit or click the link. You can learn a lot from this interview, don’t skip it because you don’t know Emporia State.
Coaching Women’s Soccer at Emporia State University
How did last season go?
Better. When I came in here there were a lot of things that needed to be fixed and it’s really not anyone’s fault, it’s the natural evolution of a young program. Anytime you are new coming in to a new situation it’s kind of like living in someone’s house and someone else put the furniture out. It’s not where you’re use to having it or really where you want to have it. So you have to spend your time moving the furniture around to where you want it.
That’s essentially what we’ve done the last few years is try to get the furniture moved. I think we’re finally to a point where we are moving in the direction we need to move, and have some fantastic kids who are willing to work hard to make it happen. It’s a no rest for the weary kind of thing where as soon as you start doing well you have to work that much harder to recruit.
How is the next year shaping up?
Good. We had a lot of young kids, freshman, who played this year and got a baptism by fire. A week from today is national signing day so we’ve got four [recruits] and a couple young ladies who are going to sign with us next week who I think will come in and do well. The big thing with our team right now is we are at a place where we don’t really have any super starts or any big time studs but we have a nice group of kids who are willing to work hard and do the teamwork necessary to be successful.
That counts for a lot.
It does. You obviously do need the studs and the stars to move to the next level but certainly from where we are at right now I like our chances to continue to compete and rise up the table.
You play your games across town by the high school?
We have the last couple of years. This year we are actually moving onto campus down by the rec field. That was one of the first things I said when I arrived here was I wanted to get us on campus so we can get closer to everyone else. We want the ability for us to get the casual fans going to their car after class or going down to the rec center for a workout.
We are right there, something is going on, they see a crowd of people. They’ll watch. It’s the same inclination of people who pass by an ambulance on the road. There is a bunch of people standing around and flashing lights, lets look. Maybe we’ll have some flashing lights I don’t know.
Did you have to fight any with the football team to use the field (football practice field)?
No no. Coach Higgins and the whole football team have been fantastic. When you come into a new situation you have to get the lay of the land and certainly Coach Higgins did it, I’ve actually been here longer than Coach Higgins, but the football program, every program has been here longer. We’re the young kids on the block so to speak. One of the things that is very important to me is we don’t want to succeed at the expense of any of our colleges and I hope that’s the same way they feel and I think that it is.
Being a Soccer Professional
What is the future of soccer like for the players who are coming through the ESU program? Are they moving on? Do they have the capability to move on?
Certainly there is the ability for some. Some no. It’s all about mentality. The ability of players as they move up the soccer playing ladder, the ability difference is infinitesimally small. I think you’ll find [the difference is] the mentality they bring.
There is a great story about the English national team when they have the indoctrination of players who have been called up for events. They have a group meeting with them prior to the training camp and written on the blackboard behind the coach is a statement that says, “Your ability got you here, your mentality will keep you here.” That’s one of the things we talk with our girls about all the time. The ability is what I watch and see and generally any fool can tell, anyone who has watched soccer or athletics can tell who the studs are. Who has it and who can’t do it.
The hard part is once they get here are they willing to sacrifice that night out on the town because we have a game tomorrow. Are they willing to get up at 5.30 on a cold February morning and go to the weight room? Being a college athlete is not a decision you make once, it’s a decision you make every morning.
So to to conversely is a professional. We all dream and we want to be a pro but the fact is those who have the ability is very small and so smaller still is those who have the mentality and the ability. There are a lot of people out there in whatever sport who have the ability but don’t have the mentality. That aren’t willing to look at it as a profession. They see all the glamor of being on TV and under the spotlight, making money and being able to play at the highest level but what they don’t see is the incredible amount of work. You can’t survive on Big Macs and Whoppers. Can you eat right? Can you get up and run on your own?
In the team we’ve got right now I would say there is no one who has the ability to move to the next level. We have a bunch of ladies who will do very well at this level. But by the same token there is always somebody who starts out and as a bench warmer their first year or two and then they get it in their head they want to succeed and nothing will stand in their way.
Goalkeeping (Jim is a former college keeper and goalkeeping coach)
A lot of US Soccer fans have wondered why there are so many great American goalkeepers. Why are they succeeding while the field players aren’t doing as well?
The simple explanation is we are raised to play in a bunch of different sports and the majority of sports are done with our hands. Basketball, football, baseball, they all have to do with eye hand coordination. Therefore Americans are athletic.
Also, more of the clubs of the world are willing to take a chance on a goalkeeper before they will a field player because we are used to doing things with our hands. It’s a natural progression as opposed to our field players. People think, “They’re American they can’t play with their feet as well.” There are some American goalkeepers who are getting a chance because they are American and goalkeepers and some field players who aren’t getting enough of a chance because they are American and an outfield player.
With that being said I think there are tremendous goalkeepers. It’s kinda nice to have that little corner of the market.
When do you think an American coach will be able to go overseas and be successful?
It’s already kind of happened in a of ways. In the 2006 world cup Jurgen Klinsmann took a lot of heat from the German people because he brought over fitness trainers from the United States and trained them how we train them. He took a lot of ideas Anson Dorance the women’s coach at UNC. Everyone went nuts over that because not only was it an American coach it was an American women’s coach. [They said] “How can they show us anything different?” Klinsmann was willing to step outside of the buffer zone and they were semi finalists.
It’s a little more prevalent than you think. Just not at the highest level. I think there are a number of American coaches who are physical trainers over there. That’s probably where we will get in it first. Then it goes the way our players go. It will be a goalkeeping trainer in some club. From there an outfield coach and maybe then a head coach. It may not be for another 15 or 20 years. Steve Sampson is bouncing around a little bit and coaching various National Teams in Latin America. Obviously not Manchester United or English Nation team but it’s got to start small and it’s got to start somewhere.
Thank you for the interview Snoop! I learned a lot and I’m sure the readers did too. If any of you internet peeps are ever in Emporia, KS go to one of the women’s soccer games.