Aug. 6, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- Soccer head coach Steve Holeman previews the 2013 season in this Q&A with Georgiadogs.com. The Bulldogs began practice Monday and will open the season Fri., Aug. 16 at home in an exhibition game vs. The Citadel.
Q: How important is the senior class to this year's team?
A: They’re the key to our success. We kind of have an interesting dynamic with this year’s team in that we’re very senior-laden, we’re very freshman-laden, and we kind of have a handful of sophomores and juniors in between, but the great thing is that we have a lot of good, quality leadership on this team. That’s extremely important because we have so many young players. Half our roster is freshmen. It’s critical that we have good leadership and there are returning players that are the core of this team. But our freshmen are here to help and they’ll contribute right away.
Q: Is this the first time you have had this much of the roster made up by freshmen and what is that like?
A: For me, this is my 20th season in the SEC, so I’m sure somewhere along the line I’ve had classes similar in size, but I would probably say overall this is the most talented incoming group that I’ve been able to be a part of.
Q: After some of the disappointments of last season, what are your expectations for the coming year?
A: They’re no different from last year in that we feel like we’re always going to compete for an SEC Championship. First and foremost, that is our objective. Obviously we are looking to get back into the NCAA Tournament and not just get back into the tournament, but also win games. I think we have a group that can do it – a talented group that works really hard. We have tremendous personalities across the board.
Q: How much does the voluntary strength and conditioning work the players do in July mean come the start of the season?
A: By them being physically ready to go, it means we have to spend less time and focus and energy on getting them fit because they’re on a higher fitness level, they’re going to be on a higher fitness level than in previous years, so now we can focus and put our efforts into the tactical side of the game. We can focus on getting them to play the way we want them to play, getting our new players to play faster and a better brand of soccer. We want their speed of play to be at a really high level so that they can learn our system, and it’s great that we can really focus on that rather than having to focus on fitness at this stage.
A: That’s incredibly important, because we know each other now, we blend extremely well together, everyone knows their role, and we continue to improve as a staff. We’ve met as a staff prior to the start of camp and kind of understand our roles. We are able to learn from our mistakes and are constantly improving even in our coaching styles and the way we implement what we do. This year will be better than last, and that was better than the year before that, in terms of our coaching staff and how we organize things.
Q: How do you feel about approaching 200 career wins (four away)? Is it something you notice?
A: It really isn’t, and coaches may say that just to say that but until you just mentioned it I didn’t even know. That’s not a goal of mine, that’s not an objective of mine, and when it happens it happens. It may be nice to be recognized but that’s far from being any kind of concern for me.
Q: How important is it for the Georgia soccer program for players like Ashley Baker to go on and be visibly successful after they leave the program?
A: I think it’s outstanding. It’s a great reflection of the program and I think it’s a reflection of what we’re doing at Georgia and how we’re able to develop players and help move them on. For those that want to move onto the professional ranks, they have an opportunity to do that here at the University of Georgia.