Chris Traina | Head Coach | Men’s Soccer | Nichols College

Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?

When recruiting players, personality must match the ability. I would like to say we take the students that try their best, and give it their everything, but the fact of the matter is that it is their skill level that gets you in the door, what happens from that point on is out of my hands. It is up to the player to match or exceed my expectations.

We invite recruits up for overnight stays with our team. It is equally important that my players “like” the recruit as important as it is for the recruit to like the team and the college. Division 3 has to be the hardest division to coach. Academics can get student athletes award money, but we cannot flash money in front of athletes to bring them to campus. The integrity of the school, and the integrity of the athletics programs are what sells the institution. I am proud to say that we have a great group of guys who work hard in and out of the classroom.

Could you give an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?

I have a young man who came to campus the second year I took over the program. We were 5-13 at the time, and my recruiting base was slim. This player worked his tail off, yet would not see the field due to his inability to understand the system we played as well as our style of play.

He showed up every day, was always a positive person, and for that reason, I kept him on the team. He understood he may not play. His junior year at pre-season, everything clicked for him. After the 3rd day of triple sessions, he came into my office, and told me how much “fun” he was having now that he understood what I needed from him.

He is a senior now, and although there are freshmen playing in front of him with more talent, he is the first off the bench for either of my center midfield players. He became a valuable asset to the program as well as a role model for those who are “anxious” to get on the field.

I now carry 28 players, some may evolve and some may not. We have an A and B team in which my assistant coach works with my B players to help them understand our system. My goal each year is to have my “A” team much larger than my “B” team which will make us that much more dangerous to our opponents.

Although we do have players who wish they could be on the field, they understand why they are not, and also how valuable they are to the program. We are currently enjoying an 8 -1-1 overall record, undefeated in conference play, and have recorded seven “clean sheets”. Although we are only at the half way point of our season, our guys are having the time of their lives, and so am I.