Jeff Cole kicks off his inaugural season as the head coach of the college’s men’s soccer team. He is hoping to build on the previous success of the program and leave his mark on the team as well.
“The program has been around and obviously had a lot of success, so all I want to do is continue with that tradition here with [men’s soccer], to keep things rolling,” Cole said. “The program as a whole has always been very, very good and won a lot of championships so I want to continue with that tradition and those expectations of always finishing and winning the Jayhawk conference.”
The men’s soccer team has been competitive in the past, posting 38 wins, 30 losses and six ties in the past five seasons. Cole hopes to continue to build on the winning tradition in his new role with the program. This will be Cole’s first head coaching job after spending the past seven years at University of Missouri–Kansas City as an associate head coach.
The Cavaliers have enjoyed a long offseason, during which they met and welcomed their new coach. Both Cole and the players are adjusting to the different philosophies both on and off the field.
“I feel like Jeff wants to improve the program, both, academically and when it comes to soccer,” Kyle Reese, a sophomore and team captain of the Cavaliers men’s team said. “I feel really comfortable talking to him, going up to him and saying, ‘hey, I think we need to improve this.’ So, I think he’s a coach, but at the same time a friend and he’ll listen to you. Jeff has been really good with that.”
Since he’s arrived on campus, Cole has been impressed with the facilities and staff at the college.
“The transition here to the program has been fantastic, it’s been welcoming, they’ve welcomed my wife and I,” Cole said. “The campus itself is just beautiful and the facilities are fantastic, from the athletic director, Randy Stange and everybody from Dr. Webber, to the foundation at JCCC have been really receptive and welcoming. Betsy Timm who is my academic support person, who has been fantastic and helped me immensely off the field.”
Cole is excited about the upcoming season and an opportunity to compete for the Jayhawk conference championship. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic the season has been shortened to 14 games which poses a unique challenge to him and his staff.
“It is shortened in terms of matches, however the season itself is more condensed, starting Sunday, we will have seven games the next 18 days,” Cole said. “So, it’s something we’ve been preparing for, the games are going to come fast and furious. Myself and my coach staff have to monitor their [players] bodies and try to save their legs and try to regroup for the next match.”
After a loss to Coffeyville Community College, Cole is hoping his players adjust to National Junior College Athletic Association league play and the difference in play between college and high school as well as developing his players to work as a team and grow, as they transition from high school to collegiate athletics.
“The biggest difference has been the speed of the game and the physicality. These guys are flying around there and it’s just crazy how fast they play sometimes,” Cole said. “It’s just something the boys are going to have to get used to because this is college soccer, we’re not in high school anymore. That’s why we do strength and conditioning, to get them to take these games serious, because everyone we play against is going to be bigger, stronger, faster. We’ve got to match that.”