New soccer coach believes SRU is ‘the right fit’

Published by adviser, Author: Cody Nespor - Sports Editor, Date: August 29, 2016
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After nine years as an assistant coach at Millersville University, Steve Small was ready for a change. Coach Small has gotten job offers to be a head coach before, but he was holding out for the best opportunity.

“I was looking more for the right fit for me and my personality and a school that I’m comfortable with, and that’s what Slippery Rock is for me,” Small said. “It was the right fit and it was the right time to take that step.”

Small’s time at Millersville was successful. Working under head coach Steve Widdowson, Small helped Millersville to a 113-57-11 record over nine years, one Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championship and two regional championships. Small has become very familiar with the PSAC and how to win championships and he believes that knowledge will be very valuable at Slippery Rock.

“Our conference is extremely difficult and if you don’t know the conference it’s extremely difficult to come in and try and coach in it,” Small said. “Even for the players to come in and play in it, it’s a different animal, per se. So I think having my conference of the conference is going to be very beneficial to having a smooth transition and continuing the success here.”

Small likes the small town aspect of Slippery Rock and was drawn in by the “family atmosphere” here at the University.

SRU athletic director Paul Lueken says he had a hard choice when it came to finding the new head coach for Slippery Rock men’s soccer.

“We went ahead and had a full-blown national search and we had a lot of good applicants. We brought in four really good candidates, all that were different,” Lueken said. “What Steve brings to the table is a great knowledge of the PSAC. He comes from a great program, a team (Millersville) that we have to beat to win a championship. He’s well respected and he has just a really nice way about him. He has a lot of energy, but he knows how to channel it in a nice way.”

Small will become the 12th head coach in SRU men’s soccer history, replacing Andy Hoggarth who led the team to a conference championship in 2015. Small said Hoggarth had actually encouraged him to apply for the job when Hoggarth knew he was definitely resigning.

Coach Small is coming into a program at Slippery Rock that has had a lot of success in the recent past, winning two of the past three PSAC titles. He will be tasked with both continuing that string of success and building up the program for continued success in the future, but with an extensive knowledge of the conference and years of high-level experience Coach Small seems poised for a good career at The Rock.

 

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