Women's Soccer |
May 27, 2008
GoBEARCATS.com: With the spring schedule now wrapped up, how do you feel your first spring season went?
Head Coach Michelle Salmon: "The spring season I would say soccer wise, we improved every week. We got better week in and week out and against OU we had a dominating performance to close out our competitive spring schedule. It really set the tone for this team; defensively it was the best game that we had all season. I felt attacking wise, we played a very complex attacking system and we got stronger and stronger throughout the spring which bodes well for our team moving forward into the fall season. This is a different Cincinnati team and we're a more organized team. From January to where we are now we're definitely more organized and focused. Everyone is on the same page in the sense of the team and the coaching staff. This has been a great opportunity for us as a coaching staff to really get to know the players and allows the players to get to know our philosophy. Coming out of spring, I can tell you that the team that I started with in January to the team I have right now is just completely different. The mentality is different, the willingness to sacrifice and understand what a championship approach is different. These players have bought in and their ready to go and if the BIG EAST schedule started tomorrow, the players would be absolutely prepared."
GoBEARCATS.com: Before the spring season what were your goals for the team and how do you feel you achieved them?
Salmon: "One of the first things we did as a coaching staff was to have player meetings. All the players responded with the answer of we want to win. The mentality in terms of what it takes to win has definitely changed and now they understand the sacrifices and the mentality that is needed in order to be successful. When I look back at the spring and see how far the players have come, it's not as much of a change soccer wise but more mentality in understanding that their not in it just to compete but there in it to win. That's the thing that Chris (Kouns) and I going forward take out of spring is the mentality shift of this team has been the biggest change."
GoBEARCATS.com: How has the team adapted to your more offensive style of coaching philosophy?
Salmon: "They love it, if you ask them, the idea of possessing and knocking it around and being dynamic on the ball plays to the strengths of every single player on this team. In the evaluations of the spring, we've looked at everyone's strengths and we've put them in positions that play to them. We've talked about it with the players and have explained to them that, "Here are your strengths, and this is why you're in this position." We've explained the why of the game. Why are you in the position, because you do xyz very well and with that being said the system that we play really fits our mentality as well. The players by all accounts enjoy being a team that scores a lot of goals. As a coaching staff, we look at where we've come in the spring and it's that mentality shift that we are most proud about."
GoBEARCATS.com: As a coaching staff what are your plans for the summer?
Salmon: "Right now we're going to hit the recruiting trail, we're going to be spending the next six weeks or so on recruiting. With the leadership that we have in Kim Sykes, Andrea Kaminski and Lindsey Noteboom and with those guys checking in with every player, making sure everyone is doing their work and having the bulk of the team sticking around Cincinnati area is a big advantage for us. The mentality shift that we've had with our players that most of them are sticking around for summer school, all of them are sticking around in the summer to train and their commitment to being great is here.
GoBEARCATS.com: Every school that you have taken over as the head coach there has been an immediate turnaround that has followed, what do you attribute your success early on in programs to?
Salmon: "I don't believe in going into a program and necessarily changing everything. I think you come in and you assess the program and find the strengths and build around those. One of the things that I believe that we do really well here is we empower our players and allow them to become a part of the program instead of just telling them what to do. We give players vital roles not only on the field but off of it as well. When you look at a player like Kristin May, she's a tremendous player on the ball. So we bring a player like May in and we tell her all the things that she does great and we put her in a system that plays into those strengths. So by not coming in and blowing everything up, we stabilize the environment as quick as we possibly can. I think that when you empower and make them part of the system and let them understand that no one player is greater than the whole and that the program is always first, it makes them invested in what's going to happen. Success happens when people feel a part of something. It's not just the players and the program but also the administrators that view the program; it's the people outside that now think that they can be a part of women's soccer as well. We allow everyone to be part of the process and want everyone to come out and support this team because they are a fun team to watch. We get better every time we take the field, and play with heart and passion. I think a lot has to do with the players seeing the amount of passion we have for the game, and the love we have for the sport and that rubs off on to them. Success is as contagious as anything and coming in and being surrounded by positive people breeds success."