Welcome to the family: New WSU Soccer Coach Steve Nugent speaks out

Image courtesy of WSU Athletics (www.wsucougars.com)

Image courtesy of WSU Athletics (www.wsucougars.com)

Original: Welcome to the Family

Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 5:00 am

PULLMAN, Wash. From the moment he stepped on the frozen campus grounds last week, soccer Head Coach Steve Nugent could feel the family atmosphere at WSU and knew he wanted to be a part of it.

Growing up in Boston, Nugent was the youngest of eight children. His upbringing combined with the present situation of raising three young boys together with his wife, Janna, have made Nugent into the staunch family man he is today.

Nugent wants the teams he coaches to be bound by the similar core values and principles in that the team is family, and family always comes first.

“First and foremost, it’s team first,” Nugent said. “We’re going to be a team-oriented group of players, and that is going to be our number one priority when we go into any season or any game.”

Nugent said he and his family love all the outdoor activities the West Coast has to offer and were welcomed with open arms from the first interview with WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos all the way to the day he decided to take the job as head coach.

“I’m really happy to be a part of the Cougar family because everything that has happened in such a short amount of time just shows how welcoming this place is,” he said.

Nugent indicated that the best part of his interview process was simply sitting down with random students in the CUB and chatting with them.

“I asked them what it means to be a Cougar, what the environment is like, and wanted to know what brought them here,” Nugent said. “That was really special to me and it didn’t take me long to figure out why this place is so great.”

Nugent brings more than 20 years of coaching experience to the Cougar soccer program at both the collegiate and club levels.

Nugent said the biggest challenge of his new job will be to outwork the 11 other coaches in the Pac-12, but he’s finding it difficult to find any negatives in his new situation.

“When you look at Washington State and the academic reputation of this school, the facilities, the support system, the type of athletes that coaches before me have recruited to this university, it’s setup to be successful without question,” he said.

The Cougars advanced to the NCAA Championship in five of the last six seasons and finished second in the Pac-12 last year while setting or tying 28 team and individual records along the way.

Previous Head Coach Keidane McAlpine departed for USC following the season.

Nugent said his first order of business will be to make his players feel as comfortable as possible with him, which is a process he already initiated with a team dinner earlier this week.

“Some of these players have had to deal with two coaching changes here and had their world turned upside down twice in a real short amount of time,” he said, “so a big priority for me is to interact with them so they feel good about what’s happening.”

Nugent said he was familiar with WSU soccer prior to coming here, and he and McAlpine spoke about the ingredients it took to win both on the field and with his new players.

“We have got to make sure that the players that are here and will continue on at Washington State will utilize the experience that they gained last year from an unbelievable record-breaking season with a lot of firsts,” he said.

Nugent said the staff has been working hard on the recruiting trail in order to bring people who are athletically and academically strong to WSU. His focus will be telling prospective students how awesome WSU is and the direction the team is heading, which he expects to attract “pretty special athletes.”

Nugent said winning a Pac-12 title and getting deeper into the NCAA Tournament is the goal right now, and his mantra on accomplishing that is simple.

“We want to make teams hate it when they come here for a full 90 minutes,” he said. “If we can do that, we’re going to be successful.”