When most college athletes leave their alma mater’s field after their last game, it marks the end of their experience in that school’s athletic program. But, when 27-year-old Mike Wilson stepped onto the Simpson soccer field at the beginning of the 2005 season, he was trading in his cleats for a clipboard.
A 2000 Simpson graduate and past soccer player for the Storm, this is Wilson’s first season as a head coach. After two years as the assistant coach for the Gustavus Adolphus soccer team, Wilson, a Des Moines native, decided to come back to Simpson. Wilson and his wife, Susan, who is also a Simpson alumna, welcomed the opportunity to return to Indianola. Susan is employed at 21st Century Rehab.
“This is basically the dream job that became available, so I went for it,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he plans to focus on the dual roles of friend and father-figure that he’ll serve as a coach at Simpson. He was quick to point out that any success is due to the players, not their coach.
According to Wilson, the variety of skill levels and the team’s camaraderie are what make the team successful.
“[We have] a great group of guys,” Wilson said. “They’re hilarious.”
While the season has involved many transitions for both players and coach, the group is working hard to set goals, bond as a team and stay focused.
“The adjustment is immediate with Mike,” said junior Mark Pleiss, a center midfielder for the Storm.
Pleiss credits Wilson’s alumni status with easing the transition, as well as providing a solid background of knowledge about the Simpson soccer program.
Simpson athletic director John Sirianni also appreciates Wilson’s adept knowledge of the school’s soccer program, including its recruitment style and the layout of the Iowa conference. Looking back on Wilson’s career as a Simpson athlete, Sirianni recounts that Wilson was “an outstanding player.”
When it comes to praising Wilson’s coaching style, Pleiss said he respects the discipline the new coach brings to the field. The team is currently setting goals involving working as a team, both on and off of the field.
Still, players and coach have their eyes on the prize.
“Don’t get me wrong – we do want to win,” said Pleiss. “Winning is [still] the main goal.”