Throughout the offseason, GoMocs.com plans to check in with all 12 of UTC’s head coaches to see what goes on during the summer months with each program. With men’s golf and track & field still competing, there is a lot left to the 2013-14 season. However, some of our teams have already wrapped up play and are looking to next year.
While fans only see the work of their team while in season, it’s really a year-round experience. It encompasses strategies, recruiting and development. We caught up with women’s soccer head coach J.D. Kyzer in his office this week.
What is the summer like around the office?
“Our days in the summer are very full. As every coach does, we’re recruiting every day. Recruiting is a beast and even more so this time of year. A lot of select teams start organizing and we’re going to tournaments this time of year. The [Tennessee] state tournament is this week. There are huge tournaments in the summer because kids are out of school and most of your better quality tournaments are in the summer.
“We have limited resources so we spend more time in the office than we need. We’d rather be out. We have to pick the places we go and we’ve gotten very creative in doing a lot from a base verses going to a place.”
What made soccer a more attractive sport for you?
“My brother started playing in high school. He came home with a soccer ball and started showing me what they did in practice. Every day I was waiting on him to get home and show me what they did because that’s all we had was high school soccer when I was growing up.
“I picked it up that way and my little brother did too. There were four brothers, but three of us played. I started playing with different teams. Most of the guys I ended up playing with were from up north, that’s where the better players were from.
“I played football and ran cross country for the longest time. I liked soccer because I’m ADD and it’s moving all the time. There are no time outs; it’s constant movement. You play for 45 minutes, stop for 15 minutes then play for another 45 minutes. It’s the only sport where you’re not stopping.
“Also there’s less choreograph in soccer and more that you have to think for yourself. No one is saying ‘block this’, ‘set up this play’ in basketball or ‘position yourself here’. It’s always moving. You may be a back on the soccer field and then all of the sudden you’re in front and you take a shot. In other sports when you’re on defense that’s what you do unless you intercept the ball in football. You can’t score runs when you’re in the outfield. That’s why it’s the world’s sport. It’s one of those weird things where there are no constraints, no boundaries. One second you’re on the attack and the next you’re defending you’re goal.”
How did you get into coaching?
"Because there was a lack of it out there. I got my degree in teaching physical education and I love soccer. It was natural to teach what I love. The first team I coached was a middle school team. I was in college and took over the team. The first coach who had it was in a room of teachers and they said they were going to start a soccer team and asked for someone to coach it. No one raised their hand so this guy said he’d read the book and coach the team. It was great that he wanted to do that and I took over from him.”
What is it like to coach younger kids as opposed to a collegiate team?
“I coach my daughter’s rec team. It was on Saturday’s this spring. You have to be careful when you coach the younger ones. When the whistle blows, you go into a different place anywhere no matter what the age group you’re coaching. You’ve got to remember that they are little, tiny girls instead of big girls. It’s hard because you get upset with the referee and then you look over and you realize he’s like 12 or 13.”
Your teams do a lot of community service throughout the year. Discuss the importance.
“Service is a two-way street. It’s not just the people you’re serving. You get help too. It fulfills a need we have to help others and gives the student-athletes the knowledge of their responsibility. We all have to take care of each other. At some point you are going to need help. By helping others and seeing them allow you to help them it give you an inroad to you doing the same. We all have pride. No one wants to acknowledge that they need help. If they help other people, they see that and are able to accept help when it comes. You want them to share with the community you live in because you want them to support you as well. You want them to understand that care goes both ways.”
What other sports do you play now?
“I’m a youth leader at church and they asked me to play softball this summer. I haven’t played in a long, long time. I play in the outfield and I’m a pitcher. When you’re in the outfield, the ball is either really high in the air or rolling around on the ground, so at that point it’s not really hard. It’s much harder to be a pitcher because the window is much smaller.”
The 2014 soccer season kicks off on the road at Alabama-Huntsville on Sunday, August 17. Chattanooga will host Tennessee Temple August 29 in the home opener at 7 p.m. Follow the Mocs at the official site of Chattanooga athletics at GoMocs.com.