Interview: Eric Nichols - Bowling Green State University (NCAA D1)

U90: Last year saw a strong performance both on the pitch and academically. What do you believe were the key ingredients in your performance? What do you need to work on in 2015? 

EN: We see a direct correlation to success in the classroom and success on the playing field.  Certainly intelligence and talent come into play, but more so it is the mentality and the approach that lead to success in both realms.  Our team is comprised of talented young men who are extremely driven and hungry for success on the field, in the class and in life in general.   

U90: Many see BGSU as a very potent young attack, and it’s only getting better.  What key training approaches and methodologies do you bring to the BGSU program, that you feel will transition the team to become even more competitive in the coming season and beyond?  

EN: We were one of the most effective attacking teams in the nation last year and most of the 'pieces’ are returning.  But we are very aware that what we did in 2014 is in the past.  This group is solely focused on getting better each and every day.  We have tremendous internal competition which we use to push the players to new levels.  

U90: Many young players look toward professional pathways in Europe and other regions, sometimes foregoing their education for a shot at “the big time” in a foreign league. Given you recruit players from international markets, how do you feel that the US college soccer environment develops a player for life after college from an academic and professional playing perspective? 

EN: I think college soccer in the US is positioned very uniquely in that young players do not have to make that tough decision on which avenue in life they want to pursue.  Of course there are some rules in college soccer that are somewhat restrictive, and those are being revisited and hopefully amended.  Regardless, we are able to create what is essentially a professional training environment in which players can continue to grow as players and pursue the goal of becoming professional players.  At the same time they can study at some of the finest academic institutions in the world without missing a beat.  

U90: BGSU had a great year in the classroom in 2014, with several players receiving Academic All- MAC Honors. How do you help your players balance playing with their study. What pathways do programs like BGSU help student athletes continue a professional career post their collegiate playing career? 

EN: This goes back to the type of young men we look to bring into our program.  They are sharp and extremely driven.  And there is a culture on the team of excellence that extends to all facets of their lives.  These guys hold each other to very high standards and push each other to be great.  We see it every day on the training field and it carries over into their studies.

U90: BGSU have another big season ahead for 2015, what are your goals for the team, and how will you be preparing them for the best possible shot of consistency in the MAC conference, and potentially the NCAA tournament?

EN: In 2014, we consistently played at a level that approached our maximum.   We are proud of the games we won and how we competed but ultimately our maximum level left us short of where we want to be.  We will continue to foster our culture of competitive toughness and consistency, but our goal is to raise the bar, and increase that maximum.