Third Time’s the Charm
New men’s soccer coach sees nothing but potential at Wisconsin.
Ambition + integrity + talent = success.
That’s the formula that new men’s head soccer coach John Trask preaches to his players, and it’s one that’s led him to unparalleled coaching success over the past seventeen years.
A Milwaukee native, Trask attended Indiana University in Bloomington, spending sixteen years there, first as a player and then as an assistant coach. Then he moved up to the professional level, coaching three Major League Soccer teams as an assistant before taking the head coaching position at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he led that school’s team, the Flames, to three Horizon League championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances.
When Wisconsin offered him the head coach job this year, Trask said it was an offer he couldn’t refuse … again. He’d previously declined the position twice in the last decade.
“When [the job] was offered the third time and I realized what the potential was, I had good conversations with [former UW coach and current head coach at Indiana] Todd Yeagley — who I coached in high school — and he was able to fill in a lot of the blanks about how supportive the alums are, the administration is, and what this place could and should be. It got me excited,” he says.
Trask knows he’s in for a challenge during his first year at the UW. As an experienced coach, he understands that no matter how much he emphasizes great defense and accurate passing, success still hinges on the players. With nine seniors leaving last year’s team and a few current players trying to adjust to their third coach in three years, Trask knows 2010’s outfit is facing an uphill climb.
“Do I think we’re going to set the world on fire? I just think if you’re relying on four or five freshmen — and we will have to — it’s going to be a tough season,” he says. “Now, can we peak at the right time and could something good still happen? I believe it can and — especially considering these older players are on their third head coach — I’m going to do everything I can. I don’t want to look at this as a two-year developmental situation. But I’ve got to be realistic as well.”
While Trask was a coach for Indiana, the Hoosiers won eight Big Ten titles and national championships in 1998 and 1999. He hopes that his Badgers will do as well.
“If we can’t surpass [Indiana], we want to get right up on the same level playing field with elite teams in the Big Ten,” he says. “Whether you talk about Northwestern, Ohio State — Ohio’s had a good run — Michigan State, or Indiana, we want to get mentioned right up there with those teams, where it’s assumed that we’re not going to be the team that’s out of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. We want to be playing on Friday and Sunday and scrapping for the title. That’s what it’s all about.”
The 2010 soccer season opens in late August and runs until the middle of November, leading into the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
Published in the Summer 2010 issue