What it takes, and what it’s like, to be an NCAA coach

Integrity, passion, and responsibility are only a few qualities that the University of Indianapolis looks for in its coaches according to Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sue Willey. Namely, she said a drive and passion for the work is something that catches her eye. The sign of an excellent coach is someone who is always striving to make the experience better for their student-athletes according to Willey. 

“Number one, we’re looking to see if they’re passionate about what they’re doing,” Willey said, “We want a leader and a role model for our student-athletes.”

The university looks for individuals who are responsible when it comes to financial matters, Willey said. She said whomever they choose should be able to handle the money with an air of integrity and resourcefulness. A potential coach should have an excellent amount of knowledge on their sport. They must know the rules and regulations, beneficial and useful strategies, and what the inner workings of a usual game look like Willey said. She said all of this pales in comparison to what is the most important thing she looks for: a sense of teamwork.

“I want somebody who is a teamplayer in the department,” Willey said. “We talk about everyone in UIndy athletics being a team player in the department. That means you’re supporting one another. At UIndy, our coaches want it to be a well rounded, four to five years of growth and maturity where they are successful.”

After playing soccer herself, UIndy Head Women’s Soccer coach Holly Cox said she was inspired to dive into coaching after experiencing american collegiate soccer. After three years of  assistant coaching positions, Cox said she applied  and got the job as Head Coach In the five years since, she said she has enjoyed every second of it.

Cox said coaching is not what you would call a typical job. No day is the same as the one that came before it and each one brings with it its own set of obstacles. This does not mean that it does not come with its fair share of joyful moments she said.

“I think it’s such a rewarding job,” Cox said. “I can’t think of doing any other profession apart from collegiate level coaching.”

Cox and her staff will start the week with a Monday morning meeting at ten. The purpose of these meetings is to sketch out a game plan for the week, as all important tasks are set to a schedule, according to Cox. Training sessions with the team are scheduled. Travel plans for far away games are finalized.

Cox said she and her staff typically meet with the players to practice for upcoming games and oftentimes they will watch clips from pat games in order to determine their strengths and weaknesses. She said they do this so that the women playing will be able to hone in on, and improve their skills, so they are able to do the best job they possibly can when they step out on that field. Seeing the players grow and learn, Cox said, is an incredible thing to witness. 

In order for a team to be successful, communication and cooperation are essential, according to Cox. Fortunately for her, she said she has found herself in the company of some good people. This all comes with the possibility of having to remove some individuals from these groups. 

“We had to let some players go that didn’t fit our philosophy and what we wanted to grow here at UIndy,” Cox said. “Sometimes by losing certain individuals that aren’t good for culture and chemistry you gain that culture and chemistry. That was really tough. Because of me as a coach, I want everyone to succeed. I want to help everyone. I wanna make people better soccer players, and teach them lessons that are gonna be carried on in life. Not everyone wants that help unfortunately, and I can only do so much.”

What makes it all worth it is the impact her presence has on those she works with. Early on, Cox said she realized that her position was a delicate one and that every single day, she is witnessing the growth and education of so many young women. She knows that she is preparing them for a career, as well as for life, is an honor that she will always be grateful for. 

“You get to touch so many people’s lives,” Cox said. “It’s being able to work with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, from different upbringings and being able to communicate effectively and inspire and motivate a group of people in order to reach upon a common goal. It’s so rewarding.”