Coach Interview: Austin College Soccer Coach Kevin Gregory

Coach Interview: Austin College Soccer Coach Kevin Gregory Coach Interview: Austin College Soccer Coach Kevin Gregory

Kevin Gregory has been the head soccer coach at Austin College since 2022. Gregory also has coaching experience at Bluffton University and his alma mater, Hendrix College, where he played four years of varsity soccer. Today, Coach Gregory talked with us about all things college soccer recruiting.

1. What are some of the most important qualities you look for in a recruit?

  • First and foremost is grades. We are a high-standing academic institution with high academic standards. So, a player needs to have proven themselves in the classroom before we look at them as a potential recruit.
  • Be a quality human being. Culture and team chemistry is everything. My life philosophy is that I genuinely don’t think that it is difficult for human beings to treat other human beings at least decently well.
    • I really don’t think its that difficult for teammates to treat other teammates well. We have very high standards for how teammates treat each other and only look for incoming players who share that mindset.
  • Be a competitor. One of the most successful collegiate programs I know of says, “Coaches don’t make players better, only players can make players better.” You have to have the inner drive, desire, etc. to want to get better.
  • Can the player make our team more competitive by coming in and contributing on the field? This could be with technical ability, athleticism, soccer IQ; there are a lot of different qualities can come into play on this one depending on what our current roster and needs look like.

2. What is the best way for a recruit to get on your radar?

  • Any email that is specific and shows genuine interest in our school will get my attention. It is easy to tell when a potential recruit has just been copying and pasting the same generic email to a lot of different schools. Tell me what you want to study, tell me why you decided to reach out to our school, include your grades, etc.
  • At the end of the high school season there was a college showcase. It was a Sunday game at 8:00 am, and between high school games during the week and the showcase, this was the players' 5th game in 7 days. I saw a player running around and competing like she was playing in the World Cup final. This was especially more impressive since results really don’t matter all that much at college showcases. It was a definite attention grabber, as you can’t fake that level of genuine competitiveness. Fortunately, we were able to get this student-athlete to be a part of the program.

3. What is the best advice you can offer a recruit?

Be your own sports agent. Once you have settled on a list of schools that fit what you are looking for, reach out to the coaching staff. Even if you don’t get an immediate response, keep reaching out. Keep them filled in on your upcoming playing schedule and keep an eye out for any camps they may be offering. Be proactive and determined in your communication. This should be done by the player! Take ownership of this next step in life, and make sure you are the ones doing the work and not your parents/guardians.

4. What do you look for when viewing the highlight tapes?

  • Athleticism
  • Technical ability
  • Tackling ability
  • Physical contact willingness
  • Aerial ability

5. What platform(s) do you use to discover or recruit athletes?

NCSA and FieldLevel are the platforms we use the most. However, we are always exploring other options to help us recruit at the highest level possible.

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6. What can a player expect when they enter college?

You have to make your college choice by asking yourself the following questions:

  • If soccer is somehow taken out of the equation, is that still a school that is setting me up successfully for what I want to do with my life career wise?
  • Is that a school where I can feel comfortable, like a home away from home?

If the answer to those questions isn’t yes, then your college search isn’t done yet. Too many young athletes make the mistake of thinking of sports first and school second. If you ask yourself those questions and take care of your business by being disciplined and determined to put in the work for the summer workout provided to you by your soccer coach, you will be just fine.

7. What does it take to be successful on your team?

My life philosophy is that I genuinely don’t think it is that hard for human beings to treat other human beings at least decently well. Therefore, I really don’t think it is that hard for teammates to treat teammates well. I have extremely high standards for how teammates treat each other both on and off the field, and I have absolutely no patience for members of the team not upholding those simple standards.

All it takes is for one bad personality or attitude to make everything miserable for everyone else. So quite simply, we don’t put up with that. As long as you work hard and uphold those standards of being a high-quality person/teammate, you will have every chance to be successful in our team. And go to class! Our players are here to go professional in their field of study. I am very fortunate to work with great faculty, and with our student-to-professor ratio, professors do a great job of keeping me in the loop if any of our players are not upholding our academic standards in the classroom. If you don’t go to class or are not taking care of your responsibilities in your class, we will not let you train or play until you rectify the situation.

8. What advice would you give an athlete to help them do well both on the team and in the classroom?

We do not recruit players that don’t have good grades. We are a high-standing academic institution with high academic standards, so we make sure in the recruiting process to only go after players who can meet those demands. I believe this philosophy is what helped our team have the highest team GPA on campus the past semester.

All of our students have a full-time faculty mentor on campus. The school's President’s wife plays the role of student-athlete success advisor, and the coaching staff make sure the performance in the classroom is successful. These three resources, mixed in with our small campus community where professors actually really get to know the students in their classes, makes it very hard for student-athletes to not be successful in the classroom at our school. So again, in your college decision-making process, you have to choose the school for the school, and not think athletics first. Make sure wherever you are looking can give you the opportunities to be successful academically and make sure it is a school that can set you up for success post-graduation.

9. If an athlete is looking to become a soccer coach, what advice would you give them?

I got my masters in secondary education, and I had some great professors/mentors in that process. The best advice they gave me was to “know your why.” If you are getting into the world of education, and yes, I do believe coaching is in the education world, you have to “know your why” for doing what you do. I absolutely love working in the college world because I think the college years are when a young person truly becomes who they are going to be in life. The best way to better yourself as a soccer coach/educator is to do it!

Go out and help the local youth teams, go and get involved with after school programs. We help a number of our girls get involved with coaching the youth in our community. The world of coaching and educating is all about learning by trial and error. The more you put yourself in those situations, the more you develop your own philosophy and way of doing things. Because in the world of education/coaching, you have to be true to yourself! You can’t replicate what someone else does. You can learn from others and take ideas from them, but to be a quality soccer coach, you have to be authentically yourself.

10. Is there anything you’d like to share that we have not discussed yet?

The college decision is probably the biggest one you will be making up to this point in your life. Don’t let anyone make you feel rushed into making a decision. Don’t let your teammates' decision timeframe make you feel like you have to rush to find yours. Take your time, explore all of your options, and you will find the right home for you. Don’t let coaches give you a timeline to give them a decision. Every individual person is on their own individual timeline with this process, so don’t let any external forces pressure you into making a hasty decision.

Image Credit: Bluffton University

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