New Head Coach Brings Spark to Women’s Soccer

Written By Luke Mongelli

Point Park University’s Women’s soccer team heads into the fall 2020 season under new leadership, fresh young talent, returning veterans and new guidelines. 

In January of 2020 Point Park appointed John Newbery, former coach at University of Cumberlands in Kentucky, as head coach for the women’s soccer team. Newbery spent five seasons at Cumberlands, and made a large impact on the field.

“The biggest adjustment is to the style of soccer that we are going to play. Point Park has consistently had very aggressive and talented teams and I want that to continue as a part of our DNA and culture while adding in a style that plays to our advantages, both tactically and technically. We want the game to be played at a very high tempo and to attack our opposition as much as possible,” Newbery said. “This will be done in a multitude of ways based on what the opposition gives us. The ultimate goal is to make a brand of soccer that is entertaining for fans, addictive for the players on the team, and miserable for the other team to play against.”

Many returning players have already experienced a coaching change here at Point Park, and are only interested in looking at the future. 20-year-old junior midfielder Emily Gillot thinks this is what the Pioneers need to get on track. 

“He’s definitely brought a very strong sense of leadership and organization,” Gillot said. “He’s very thorough about his goals and exactly how to best set us up to achieve them. Some noticeable changes are how strategic our training sessions are. He’s very good at breaking down plays and then building them back with each progression to a game-like scenario that has allowed us to already see success on the field,” Gillot said.

Returning Junior forward Taylor Goldstrom is also adjusting to Newbery’s new play style.

“Coach John Newbery has made a lot of changes compared to the past coaches we have had,” Goldstrom said.” Every coach has a different playing philosophy so the biggest adjustment as far as the team goes is just to get used to playing a different way than we have in the past. 

Goldstrom also added that Newbery is implementing different training processes for the team. 

“The changes Coach has brought to the team so far would be the intensity to practices and going over a lot of tactical details with us. It’s good because it makes us pass, make runs, etc. with purpose and thought, so when we get to the games, it will just come naturally to us. He holds us at a high standard and expects us to get there with every practice, that way we are constantly challenged and competing,” Goldstrom said.

In addition to the most recent staff change, a large wave of  incoming freshmen are joining the club, along with many returning upperclassmen to lead the team in the upcoming season. 

 “With every player in the program the expectation is that they come in ready to compete for time on the field. Playing time is a privilege that is earned day in and day out as you compete within your team,” Coach Newbery said. “This applies to the incoming freshman, transfers, and returning players.”

Newbery also added that training and leadership will intertwine.

“The way the women’s soccer program will continue to improve is by making our training harder than games and having your teammates push each other, regardless of their current class or history in the program. What we have seen right now is that the incoming players are hungry and want to prove themselves and show that they belong,” Newbery said. “Our returning players have a bit of a chip on their shoulders as they expect more out of this season and want to succeed in ways they haven’t before. Due to this, I have seen a fire and an expected standard that they have imparted on the new recruits of what it will take to succeed and thrive not only in our conference, but eventually at the highest possible stage within the NAIA.” 

Bailey Boyd, a 21-year-old senior midfielder thinks that the large group of incoming players will face the club with some challenges. 

“We are a very young group this year which brings along its own challenges in terms of getting everyone on board with what we want to be as a program,” Boyd said. “It just means we have to take more time in training sessions to get on the same page and get used to everyone’s own personal strengths and weaknesses. If anything, the role the incoming class brings is a lot of potential that the conference has not seen from Point Park in a while,” Boyd said.

Other players are anticipating the incoming freshman class with a very positive outlook. 

“We have a very strong incoming freshmen class as well as transfers that I’m really excited about making an immediate impact on the team,” Gillot said. “There’s a lot of talent and I’m really excited to see them find success on the field this season.” 

In conjunction with having to adapt to new players, a new coach, and a new game plan, the players and staff also have to overcome COVID-19 in compliance with local, statewide, NAIA, and River conference guidelines. 

“All of the incoming and returning players had to self-quarantine 14 days before they got to campus and once on campus we have consistently had all the players and coaching staff screened to follow the NAIA and Point Park protocols,” Newbery said. “His practices for our first two weeks of the preseason have been where the largest changes have come to our sport. Usually a preseason consists of our whole team practicing together and getting to know each other through practices and scrimmages. This preseason, in keeping with our protocols, we have had to keep our practices to smaller groups of 10 or less players, which for soccer is a new concept when working on tactical parts of the game, but not so different when working on fitness and technical aspects that can be done in smaller groups,” Newbery said.

Players included are being affected by the pandemic as well. 

“The effects COVID has had on the team thus far have slowed the adjustment process and team chemistry down a lot due to the fact that we were only able to practice in small groups,” Boyd said. The goal is to stay aware of the ongoing pandemic and strive to have the full season meaning which gets screened everyday before training sessions, wearing masks, and refraining from gathering in large groups outside of the team setting.”