A discussion has been ongoing in the socalsoccer forums the last couple of days. The topic began when UCSB lost to UCLA in the NCAA sweet 16.
UCSB is known for being a very physical team. They’ve been labeled dirty, thuggish, low class, and the list goes on with fingers pointing at coach Tim Vom Steeg.
It was when a critic stated that the reason for Tim’s failure was demoralized bench players and team atmosphere that I thought we could all learn something.
The critic stated:
“To the point of UCSB not having depth … they started with one of the largest rosters probably in D1. But then the head coach completely demoralizes much of the talent they have on the bench and plays favs, no matter their results on the field … thus the confidence many had coming in to that program is shattered. So then TVS is left with little at the end of the season, this due to his own poor ability to grow and improve ALL of the players and create a strong team atmosphere with respect for all.”
While I agree that individual and team morale is critical, I provided an opposing view to keep things balanced. This is also good information on what to expect for those whose college career is on the horizon.
First, The Facts
- He inherited a team with a 2-17-1 record, and turned that around the very next season to a 13-7-0!
- His overall record is 157-61-22, by far the best in program history and certainly enviable by most across the nation!
- Consecutive NCAA appearances from 2002-2009!
- Made the NCAA final in 2004!
- NCAA Champion in 2006!
- He has had players drafted to MLS every year since 2003!
These are very impressive accomplishments. Of particular note, is how he built this program from the abyss to a national soccer powerhouse – in the process fostering a soccer atmosphere that arguably has the largest fan base in the country. Setting national attendance records and building such enthusiasm in the community that Santa Barbara will be hosting the College Cup next year.
The guy must be doing something right!
I could stop here, but there is more to discuss than records and titles …
This is a men’s Division I soccer program. The final step before professional.
I don’t know what his official charter is, but my position is this should be serious soccer business. Whoever the coach deems best, plays. Period. If he doesn’t think you have what it takes, you’re not getting on the field.
Now, the poster has a valid point. Team and individual morale is important for success and a good manager tries to maximize this.
However, don’t you think that at this level there’s only so much the manager should do?
Most players who barely play at all levels are demoralized, and yes the coach has a role in managing those emotions and uplifting an individual. However, I think that role – or implicit responsibility – is smaller relative to the youth level. These are not little kids anymore! It is a cut-throat world out there, and men’s soccer is no exception.
If a player is not at the level, he should take it upon himself to work twice as hard regardless of team or coaching dynamics! Prove people wrong!
These are the attributes of a winner, a leader, a soccer player with a future. If you are mentally weak and can’t take it, then you just don’t have what it takes!
18-22 year olds around the globe trying to make it professionally aren’t “babied”, and I do believe there are many people in this country who expect too much hand-holding.
Is it possible we’ve grown accustomed to the youth club scene where parents sometimes have influence with playing time, among other things? Coaches cater many times to parents and players – they pay the bills after all!
Or maybe a kid was the best on his high school team, a starter on his premier club team, ODP, national team … whatever? Unfortunately they think this will continue at the next level only to find out that’s not the case! It must be quite shocking for both parent and player. Their world is rocked!
What do you mean little Johnny isn’t good enough? There must be some other reason why he doesn’t play, grrrrrrr!
And along with that, the excuses start rolling in …
- The coach plays favorites.
- The coach demoralizes players.
- The roster is too large.
- And on and on and on …
Bottom line is – this is a high level men’s game. Nobody is going to give you anything! If you want it, man up and work regardless of what’s going on!
But this is not the “be-all and end-all”. If a player thinks he is better, and believes it’s just the clueless coach (quite possible) that doesn’t see it, then hey by all means look into other options. After all, if the player is truly that good someone else should recognize it.
As for the UCSB coach specifically, … it’s hard to argue with his record when compared to colleagues.
What do you think?
This reminds me of a windshield sticker I used to have that said, “No crybabies in soccer.”
If you didn’t know what the coach was about before you signed on, then shame on you. You gotta do your homework before signing up at the school. After you sign up, if you don’t like it, then go somewhere else to prove yourself. No one is forcing a “demoralized” player to stay at that school. No crybabies in soccer, especially at that level.
And, by the way, coaches will ALWAYS have their favorites based on their preferences and biases due to their experiences and what they’re trying to accomplish with their team. To say coaches play favorites is just stating the obvious.
Gary Kleiban says
Haha, I’ve seen those stickers Rafael.
You’re right about doing as much homework on the coach as possible! Sometimes it could be tough though. There may be conflicting stories coming from different sources who all have their agendas.
Who to believe?
The athlete’s parent? If their son plays, they talk the coach up. If not, then the coach is probably evil.
The coach himself? They will usually say and do whatever it takes to get your kid in their school. Not to say they are deliberately dishonest, but they have their “salesman hat” on during the recruiting process. In addition, they may really like your kid and think he can make an impact on the team. BUT, their judgement of player quality can be off. They think they are getting a great player, only to discover great weaknesses upon closer inspection – hence relegation to the bench.
The press? They have their biases as well.
Really, the best “risk mitigation” is to be as objective as possible about how good you truly are. And this is very difficult!
As for excuses….you forgot one.
I am not (read: the coach isn’t giving me) getting enough “respect”.
The lamest excuse of them all!
Gary Kleiban says
Yeah I left out a whole bunch of excuses, and that is certainly one of them.