By Dillan Straight
When Jim Schwab officially became head coach of the women’s soccer team in their inaugural season in the 90s, gas was $1.06 and you could score a stamp for 32 cents.
Oh, how the times have changed, but the win record never seemed to fade, as Schwab proved recently with his 200th career victory.
Schwab became coach for the Lady Cavs after serving as head coach on the men’s for nearly a decade before. In their inaugural season, Schwab set the bar high for many teams to follow and seamlessly built a top-10 ranked team overnight. The team went 17-2 in that first season, winning the Regional Championship and coming within one win from the National Championship.
“A lot of coaches don’t like to play a hard, competitive schedule outside of conference,” Schwab said. “My philosophy ever since we’ve been here is a lot of schools around the country want to play us, we like to be known as a Top-15 program in the country and it helps your chances.”
During his tenure, Schwab has captured seven of the 12 Region VI titles, two Kansas Jayhawk Conference tiles, one District title and has led the Lady Cavs in 12 consecutive double-digit win seasons, eight of those seasons having won at least 17 games in the process. In 2009 Schwab reached his biggest goal, coaching the program to its first NJCAA Tournament appearance, where it finished runner-up.
Schwab remains humble in his achievements, noting that he would have never reached this level of success if it had not been for the coaching staff he had through the past decade. He said his assistants Wendy Louque and Melissa Blount have been here 10 and five years, respectively.
“I’ll be honest, it seems you’ve been doing it a long time,” Schwab said. “I think the consistency with the coaching staff and recruiting staff, it shows a lot from a whole team effort. The athletic department itself, there is a lot of people besides myself that should take credit for it. It’s a total team effort. You can’t win without the players, and then the recruiting process, the coaches, and the athletic department in the budget, they give us to do what we need to do.”
Assistant coach Louque has been a member of the Lady Cavs for the past decade and helped coach during their time in Nationals in 2009.
“The three coaches all bring something to the table,” she said. “That’s what makes us so good. In the past 10 years we’re the only [coaching] staff that remains the same. When it comes to having coaching staffs turning over, which happens frequently in any sports you’re looking at, I think that’s one thing that’s really helped us build on a tradition, which is kind of hard at the junior college level, but it’s maintaining a solid coaching staff.
“It’s not all about soccer, we care about our girls. It’s about seeing them succeed after school and in life, with their careers and their families.”
Schwab stands fourth in NJCAA Division I active coaching wins (205) with Bill Rich of Broome Community College (211) edging him barely as of Aug. 25. Schwab has earned his own accolades along the way in being selected six times for Region VI Coach of the Year, and also earned a prestigious NJCAA District B Coach of the Year honor in 2009.
“Getting to the national tournament is a hard thing to do, and we got there in 2009 and hopefully we can knock back on that door after doing so for all the past season,” Schwab said. “We played really well and ran the table. It takes a lot of good timing, a little bit of luck, sometimes a lot of luck, and it takes some talent.”
One of the resources that has improved Schwab’s coaching is his loyalty to his players.
“I think you have to be honest with the players,” he said. “You have to be able to look them in the eyes and tell them if they’re doing good or bad. Hold everyone accountable, even yourself. I think the first person we look at is our coaching staff. When we lose games, one player or one coach doesn’t lose games, it’s decisions along the way and how we ratify those mistakes.”
Schwab reached the lofty goal of 200 total wins this season in the Lady Cavs game against Cloud County Community College. Schwab was able to pull together a 1-0 win over the T-Birds when freshman Jen French scored in the 72 minute mark with a 40 yard-out free kick that soared into the net. Along with sealing a 1-1-1 on the season as of then, Schwab also brought his career win record up to 200-45-10 as of Aug. 31.
Schwab said what keeps him going is seeing the players he has coached go on to successful careers and knowing he held a part in that.
“With all the girls I’ve coached, the most gratifying is when the kids come back and they’re doctors and lawyers, business owners and parents,” Schwab said. “That’s when you know you’ve been there for a long time. That’s when you see them come back and thank you not for the wins and losses, but for the lifelong experiences they’ve learned through you. That’s my biggest [achievement], that’s what keeps me motivated to keep coaching.”
Contact Dillan Straight, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.