A college coach’s job is never over even if their respective sport is in the offseason.
“It was a few nights in Athens with just my wife only for vacation,” coach Andreas Lindberg said recalling his holiday season festivities.
Strictly vacation trips are hard to come by for coach Lindberg and his staff as they are always on the road scouting players and attending conferences. He had only just gotten back to campus a few days ago after traveling to Baltimore with the men’s and women’s coaching staffs for the annual United Soccer Coaches Convention.
“One piece that we’re there for is education to better ourselves as coaches,” Lindberg said. “Anybody in the business so to speak is down there, so it’s also a ton of networking. I think that the biggest reason we go down is for the networking.”
Even though it sounds like a professor preaching the old cliché of how to find a job, networking is a pivotal part of how Lindberg and his team build their teams. Seton Hall’s team has benefited from the connections Lindberg has in Sweden over the last two years as well as the ones assistant coach Ali Simmons brings from England.
“Me coming from Sweden and Scandinavia and Ali coming from England and the [United Kingdom] gives us an advantage, I think,” Lindberg said. “When we recruit those players from those areas, there’s a sense of comfort for them. Whether it’s cultural or language, parents feel safe by sending their kids over to America.”
Eight of Seton Hall’s players from last year arrived in South Orange by way of either Sweden or Norway, including start striker CJ Tibbling and defensive stalwart Love Fredriksson. Last season’s leading goal scorer Carlton McKenzie, graduate student Sean MacLeod and freshman midfielder James Boote make up the U.K. contingent in the squad. Factor in the players who come from Israel, Brazil, Egypt and beyond, and it makes sense that the coaching staff is always on the move to attend scouting and coaching events.
With just over a month to go until the spring season kicks off, all focus is on preparing for the long hours of traveling and assessing potential players for next year’s team.
“We start close to campus and in the state of New Jersey,” Lindberg said. “Then we expand out to New York, Long Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts because I think that’s where we can get the most joy out of local players.” Along with attending U.S. Soccer Development Academy events and tournaments, the men’s coaching staff place an equal amount of energy to recruit from European and South American hot spots.
On top of the networking contacts opening doors to seeing players previously unavailable to Lindberg, it also presents the opportunity to introduce more tactically advanced players from Europe into the squad. Admittedly, American-based soccer players have always prided their athleticism over their technical skills and knowledge of the game, and the introduction of European players who focus on the opposite benefits all players on the squad.
This offseason, Lindberg is primarily focused on bringing in players to add depth to the center back and center midfielder positions. He also noted the Pirates will be looking to bring in taller players as the team’s lack of size was a concern of his last season.
Come the beginning of March, Lindberg and his staff will hopefully have those players set on coming to South Orange. Until then, there are no trips “just for vacation” for Seton Hall.
Justin Sousa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.