staffid=1074"> --> Todd Yeagley is three weeks into his new job as head coach of the Wisconsin men's soccer program and finds himself in the midst of a busy transition that already has him scheduling, recruiting and putting together a coaching staff.
UWBadgers.com checked in with Yeagley for a short question-and-answer session to see how things are going for the first-time head coach. Yeagley comes to the UW following a six-year stint as an assistant coach at Indiana, the same school he led to three Big Ten Conference titles as a player. A four-time All-American, he was named National Player of the Year as a senior in 1994.
Q. How is the transition to a new school and new position going
A. Its gone very well so far. Things have certainly been pretty hectic, but its been great to get so much support from everyone in the athletic department. The list of things we have to accomplish is a long one, but at this point its all about prioritizing those things and getting settled in. In reality, the one thing Im most looking forward to is the chance to work with the team on the field.
Q. What have your early experiences been like on the recruiting trail
A. Its really been exciting to go out with the Motion W on my chest, because Ive been getting so much great feedback from my peers, and even UW alumni, on how much potential there is for our program. Wisconsins living alumni is a pretty large group, and Ive already had some great conversations while out recruiting, and even in airports, from people with UW ties who are excited for the direction the team is taking.
Q. How is the process of building your coaching staff going
A. Thats still an on-going process, but one that you really cant place too much importance on. Putting a top-notch staff in place is absolutely key to what we want to accomplish here, so Im taking a lot of care to make sure I look at all the candidates out there before any decisions are made. Hopefully we can make some announcements about the staff in the coming weeks.
Q. How has the transition been for your family
A. Honestly, were all very excited to make the move to Madison. My wife, Suzy, has been fantastic through the whole process and is especially excited to be part of the UW athletic department and the Madison community. With three sons, its always going to be somewhat difficult to move, but they are young enough that we arent pulling them away from too much at school. Its really a good time for our family to make the move.
Q. What attracted you to the job at UW
A. Even on the surface, its a very attractive position, given the reputation of the university, the city of Madison, the great track record of success in the athletic department and the history within the soccer program. For me, though, having seen the program up-close for a number of years while at Indiana, I knew the potential Wisconsin has for success both in the Big Ten and nationally. If I didnt think it was a championship-caliber program, I wouldnt have been interested. But the pieces are in place at Wisconsin to win championships, and thats what really drew me to the job.
Q. What were your impressions of the Badgers' program during your time at IU
A. Well, from my time as a student-athlete, I can honestly say that Wisconsin was always one of the toughest, if not the toughest, game we would play all season. Since I left school, I know there have been some ups and downs, but I still had a tremendous amount of respect for the program as an assistant at IU. It was easy for us to see the progress that (former coach) Jeff Rohrman and his staff made over the past few years, and Im really looking forward to building on that foundation and taking Wisconsin to the next level.
Q. What does the program have going for it
A. "It all starts with the university. The UW is a terrific academic institution and provides so many opportunities for students. You combine that with the experiences a city like Madison provides and the things the athletic department offers and you really have a rare combination of all the things potential student-athletes are looking for these days. They want a great all-around college experience, and we can provide that for them here. Plus, there is a lot of excitement around the athletic department and all of the outstanding teams, and that is something that recruits want to be part of."
Q. How excited are you for next season with the talent returning
A. Im extremely excited for next season. There are a lot of upperclassmen on our roster that are very motivated to achieve great things in their last year or two, so there are some good, mature young men to lead our team. At the same time, there are some hungry freshmen and sophomores, too. Theres plenty of talent here, so now its just about bringing in some new things and maximizing what we have. I cant wait to get working with them.
Q. What changes can fans expect you to bring to the team on the field
A. From a philosophy standpoint, were going to be very disciplined defensively, from the front of the field to the back. Theres going to be commitment to strong team defending. When youre strong defensively, youre going to give yourself a chance to be successful. Were going to be balanced with our attack. I like to have a good mix of players, so well have some different looks and different attacks. Thats important to how we want to build this team. I like to give freedom in the attack, so well get forward, just not at the expense of being solid defensively.
Q. Your father, Jerry, is the NCAA's all-time leader in wins. What advice has he given you
A. Enjoy every day. His biggest thing is that the team is a priority and making sure that you give every ounce of what you have into building the players on and off the field. Thats what he was able to do all these years, to connect with student-athletes and maximize the ones in his program. He sees me trying to do too many things too quickly, and he keeps telling me you have to be patient and do your work, and good things will come. Its not going to all happen overnight. He knows what it was like when he was a younger coach, and says you have to prioritize and focus building the environment, thats when success will come. Hes been a great advisor and will continue to be a wonderful advisor for me every day.
The other great thing is that there are some wonderful coaches in the athletic department to bounce things off and pick their brain. Ive gathered that sense already, that all the coaches are helpful to one another. You may think you know a lot, but youre learning every day."