10 Questions With Men’s Soccer Coach Bob Warming
The Penn State men’s soccer team has had a strong season so far and they face top-ranked Akron tonight at 7. Bob Warming is Penn State’s new coach, joining the team in its 100th season of soccer after Barry Gorman resigned last spring. I sat down with Warming to discuss his first year at Penn State and to see what he thinks about the season so far.
Onward State: This being your first year, how is Penn State going for you so far?
Bob Warming: It’s a wonderful place, and the most important thing with any place is how nice the people are here, and the people have been great and supportive.
OS: How did you originally get into soccer and then decide you wanted to coach?
BW: That’s about a thousand years ago now. I got into soccer because I grew up in a town that had a lot of international students in it. All the international students stayed during the summer and got me involved to play. I was a four-sport college athlete, so I was running all the time.
I really found out I wanted to coach when I was 13. I had been on the circuit as a tennis player and played all over the country. My tennis coach, who had been my father’s tennis coach…I came to practice one day in the summer, ready to do some training early in the morning. I said, “Coach, what are we going to do today.” He said, “You’re going to work with those 10-year-olds.” I said, “No I’m not. I came here to train. I’m not gonna get any better working with a bunch of 10-year-olds.” He said, “You’re gonna teach them tennis.”
I was kind of a hot head and upset about it, but by the time the morning was over with…I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to coach…If you love sports or you love anything and you derive something from it, you need to give back what you’ve derived from it to others.
OS: You did so much for Creighton. What are your goals here?
BW: Well every place I’ve been, I’ve just tried to make soccer more important in the community. I’ve tried to give the student athletes that played for me the same kind of remarkable experience that I had as an athlete. My coaches did a lot for me in helping me understand a lot of things about my life. I’d like to do the same thing for the kids that play for me.
OS: We are 8-3 so far, 1-2 in the Big Ten. How would you evaluate the team and the season so far?
BW: It’s a learning process for both of us. We’re still developing trust with each other. We’ve made a lot of progress there. We’re developing team shape and we’ve made a lot of progress there. We’re developing what’s important to fashion out of a season. We have 11 words that the players chose out of 50 descriptive words to define what they want the next 100 years of Penn State soccer to be like…what they wanted to get out of the experience. It was things like unity, trust and loyalty. Every week is a different theme that we have for the team.
OS: In the past, we have struggled on the road. What have you done that has changed that this season?
BW: Well the first thing, it doesn’t make a difference what I do. It’s the buy-in by the players about how we want to handle ourselves on the road. There’s hydration, nutrition, visualization, proper rest, and how we travel. All those things are very important to success and I think we’ve got a pretty good formula for it. We’ve won I think as many road games already this year as we won the past four years…The guys have been great about it and maybe it’s helped them a little bit with their success.
OS: On the other side of that, at home we’ve given up three goals to Indiana, Binghamton and St. Francis. Is there something you can point to and say that’s what’s going on?
BW: I just think it’s harder at Penn State, in our sport, to be successful sometimes than it is on the road. The reason I say that is because it takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline because there is so much going on here. All our guys basically live off-campus. If there is a kegger going on next to their house, and if people are up until four o’clock in the morning, it’s out of their control. In some sports, you could probably be fine with that. But in our sport where the running volume is enormous and the sprinting volume is greater than any other sport here on campus, you can’t run and sprint for an hour and a half if you haven’t had proper rest. So, I think there has been a couple of those situations maybe.
OS: What have Corey Hertzog and Matheus Braga meant to the team (Hertzog has 11 goals and Braga has 11 assists)?
BW: First of all, they are great teammates. I’ve been fortunate enough to coach three or four guys that have led the nation in scoring. Corey does not have a selfish bone in his body. He just wants to score goals for the team to win. Matheus has a little bit of soccer genius in him, and yet he’s great with the team. He’s one of the friendliest, nicest guys on the team. He’s so supportive of his teammates. Their personality qualities are even greater than the scoring qualities or assist qualities that they are giving the team.
OS: Have any other players stood out for you this season?
BW: They all have. All of them have unique qualities that are wonderful. We are just trying to figure out how to fashion those qualities into making our team the best.
OS: How are you preparing for Akron, which is such a good team?
BW: Well, Akron is remarkable…They’ve allowed two goals this year, and both of them were in the same game. They didn’t actually lose a game last year. They have one loss, but it was in the national semifinals. Virginia tied them and they lost in penalty kicks at the end. They haven’t lost a game in two years, so they come with a little swagger because of that.
For us, the way we are approaching it is, it is a measuring stick of where we are as a program a little over halfway through [the season]. We’ll get a chance to see things that we’re pretty good at and see things that we need to work on. Hopefully it well help us down the conference stretch here.
The big game this week for me is Northwestern. For the players, just because of the reputation of Akron, it’s a big game for them, and for the fans to see a team that is so dominate in college soccer. But for me, it’s preparation for us to be successful in the Big Ten.
OS: Joe Paterno has his own ice cream flavor at the creamery. If you had to choose one to be named after you, what would you choose?
BW: I think there is an ice cream called rocky road, but I’d rather have it be something like smooth sailing. I’d rather get our program to the point where it’s not rocky road any more, that it’s something a little smoother.