Photo By Hillary Ehlen
A full offseason has helped new soccer coach Mike Regan implement his philosophy in advance of fall number one in Fargo.
After an 8-11 campaign in 2017, North Dakota State soccer sees a change in leadership at the top. With the resignation of Mark Cook, Mike Regan took the helm in mid-January of NDSU soccer. The players and coaches alike have already seen a significant difference in the philosophy and culture for the program. The consensus among them all is that it has been for the better. Regan, a former assistant for Indiana and Drake is now ready to make waves in his first season as a head coach.
With matches against schools like Minnesota, Northern Iowa, Regan’s former school Drake and Hawaii, it will be a challenge. However, for Regan, the challenge is a welcome one with a veteran roster of five seniors and three juniors coming back for 2018.
I’ve heard players say the intensity of practice has gone up with you at the helm. Is that something you’ve always brought to coaching?
The intensity of the training has been something that was with me as a player, that’s the way I think it should be mimicked. I’m a big believer in that, especially with college athletes, I don’t think you can switch on and off intensity. If you don’t train with intensity, you can’t expect your players to turn up and be intense in the game environment. For me, every day we try and mimic and execute like it is a game day.
At some point, that is what creates good habits, that’s what creates a good understanding of mentality when it comes to the games. We definitely raised the intensity of training, but I think we have raised the level of detail and tactical knowledge that the players need to have to be ready for the games. It’s something that’s very important for me as a coach, I can’t expect my players to have a work ethic and understanding if we don’t coach it that way.
How has the transition from assistant coach to head coach gone for you, personally?
I’ve always wanted to be a head coach. Not from an ego standpoint or anything like that, I’ve always wanted to put my ideas into place and be able to shape and mold a culture. The timing of the job coming up at NDSU was just a great match really. The program was looking for a new leader, I had been an assistant for six years in the Big Ten and Missouri Valley and it was just a good opportunity for me to get my teeth into a long-term project.
The transition has been something I’ve been ready for and I really enjoy the process that comes with the opportunity to help young people on and off the field. I think that’s one of the big parts of being a college head coach. Can you help your players off the field more than anything else. Usually, that helps with performances on the field too.
You have a stretch this week that sees you go to Hawaii to Western Illinois to Fort Wayne and then back to Fargo in a 10-day span. How do you prepare a team for that gauntlet both mentally and physically?
With being a fall sport, and I think this goes for any team at any point, the work your players do in the offseason with the strength coach and on their own is so important. Now, when you get to the fall, you are already playing at a normal intensity and you execute on game days. I’m a big believer in that the work we do in the offseason is going to make us successful in season. With me, I’ve always tried to have an hour and a half practice, 90 minutes, same as the game, but then you put a really big emphasis on recovery and preparation. That’s the way the players have been improving this season. We’ve had great practices based on the idea that we’re training hard at the right times.
This will be your first season in the Summit League, how do you see the conference shaking out?
When I was at Drake as an assistant, we played against NDSU, SDSU, USD and Omaha. So I’ve seen some of these opponents before. I think there is a lot of parity within the league. I do like that on any given day, anyone can take points from another. We’ve been picked fourth out of nine, but I don’t really look at the stats or the tables. Within our program we have a saying “Earn Everyday” and that means that we’ll take it day by day.
We’re definitely going to be there in the conference, each team has something different they bring to the table. For me as a coach, I’m looking forward to a new challenge. When I was in the Big Ten, you get to know each team pretty well. This will be a new challenge for me to make sure I am familiar with other teams and make sure we are prepared for them. Denver is a strong area, but there is a lot of parity at the end of the day and anyone can take points from anyone.
NDSU soccer is currently 2-3 so far in 2018 and faces Grand Canyon in Waipahu, Hawaii tomorrow at Midnight Central Time (7 p.m. HT).