GOSHEN — The Goshen College men’s soccer team has a new head coach.
Victor Newberg, 31, was hired May 31. He is the 10th coach in program history. He replaces Arron Patrick, who went 40-44-11 in five seasons with the Maple Leafs.
Newberg is originally from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, which is in the suburbs of Chicago. He played high school and club soccer growing up before playing college soccer at St. Norbert College, a Division-III program in Wisconsin.
In 2015, Newberg became an assistant coach on the Ancilla College men’s soccer staff. He spent two years at Ancilla, one as an assistant and one as the head coach. The Chargers went a combined 29-5-1 in those two seasons, including a third-place finish in the National Junior College Athletics Association tournament in 2015.
Newberg then followed Dave Jacobs, who hired Newberg at Ancilla, to Trine University in 2017. Jacobs and Newberg helped turn around a program that was winless in 2016, posting a 13-3-2 record last season.
Now, Newberg is tasked with leading a Goshen program that hasn’t reached the NAIA National Tournament since 2006. He sat down with The Goshen News to talk about his journey to Goshen and what he hopes to achieve leading the Maple Leaf program.
Q: Was coaching soccer always something you wanted to do?
A: No. I should’ve known because when I was growing up and playing, I was always helping out with the younger teams. For me, it wasn’t about getting into coaching. I just wanted to be around the game. I studied graphic design actually, and when I graduated, I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t really have the desire to do this.’ I was kind of in limbo, I didn’t know what to do.
Then, a friend that I played against in college reached out to me — he was the director of the Junior Irish Soccer Club (in South Bend) when he reached out — and said, ‘Do you want to coach?’ And I said, ‘Sure.’
Q: You had the one year as the assistant (at Ancilla) and then the next year as head coach. How did that come about?
A: So that year, 2015, we had a really good team that made the final four of the junior college national championship … off of that success, (Jacobs) had an offer to move on to Trine. They just promoted from within.
Q: Your one year as the head coach at Ancilla — how do you think that’s going to help you with this job?
A: It was a good stepping-stone being in junior college because you have to replenish your squad basically every year. You only have two years with most of the players, so you have to build every year. I think that experience of building a team a couple of times really helped.
Q: What is maybe the one biggest thing you learned from that year?
A: We came in to preseason camp and I kind of made sure to facilitate the bonding and team culture right away. That team really grew to love each other. In my position now, there’s guys returning who don’t really know who I am. I haven’t met all of them. So, day one, just to get that team solidified and the team culture and bond straight away.
Q: In your three years as an assistant and one as a head coach, you’ve been on some pretty successful staffs. What is the key to that success?
A: I think it’s a combination of three things. First is the system that we play. We found it to be pretty successful, how we play on the field — the shape, the tactical components. That has been really successful. Secondly, the personality type. Just making connections with the students, having them buy-in, creating a culture. That has been really good. And then also recruiting. (Jacobs) has been a really good recruiter. I’ve tried to emulate his footsteps and bring in some world-class talent to where you’d think, ‘Why is he at Trine? Why is he at Ancilla?’
Q: You’ve only been here for two weeks (Newberg’s official first day was June 3). What have these first two weeks been like?
A: I’ve met all of the guys that have stayed here for the summer. I’ve talked to all of the guys on the team, trying to build that rapport and relationship. We lost some starters (from last year’s team), so my first job was to bring in three, four, five players that could come in right away and help fill those holes. That was focus number one, and also the little administrative stuff that was kind of left alone for the new coach to come in and run with.
Q: So, you’ve been recruiting since day one?
A: Oh yeah.
Q: This program has had some really successful seasons in the past. What is it going to take to achieve that similar success or even new success?
A: It’s kind of a cliché answer, but having the players. If you recruit really well — not to say the former coach didn’t recruit well, he did — but having those players and having them buy in to the system right away. Keeping that culture alive. I think John Wooden said ‘At one point, you have to turn the team over to the team.’ I think that’s what I’m going to try to do. Hopefully there’s a point in the season where it kind of runs itself, and players know, ‘OK, this is what we have to do, this is how we have to prepare, this is how we have to play in the match.’ There’s like four stages of your season development, and that’s the ultimate one.
Q: How excited are you?
A: I’m really excited. I’m excited to get going. We start August 2, and it can’t come soon enough. Some days, I need two more months. But some days, I want it to be tomorrow. I’m really pumped. We have a good group of players returning. I think we’re going to do well.
Austin Hough can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN