Coach eyes 'rebirth, rejuvenation' of Chicago State soccer
Kevin Meek is taking over the head coaching position of Chicago State University (CSU) women's head soccer team with an attitude built from a series of success he enjoyed at Massachusetts' Assumption College.
"We are hoping to build a new culture of excellence and achievement here at Chicago State University," Meek told Chicago City Wire. "And with the new and energized commitment from the Illinois governor and CSU administration, we are hoping that the women's soccer program can mirror the rebirth and rejuvenation of this entire historical university entering its 150th year of existence. And we are hoping that this program can be an example of what we can accomplish at this school and an example of our grit, determination and heart."
After four years as head coach at Assumption, Meek brings a mutipart philosophy to CSU that begins with instilling a sense of family in the squad.
"This is the first concept I wanted to introduce, and it happens to now be the last thing we chant together after each practice session, after each weight training session and after each meeting," he said. "It helps that during the spring season I'm living in the dorms and eating in the cafeteria, so we've really learned to interact and be with each other both on and off the pitch, and it has already changed the entire energy and atmosphere of this program."
Next, he wants to make sure his players remember why they got into soccer to begin with: to have fun.
"We are really building a game philosophy that emphasizes the joy and passion soccer brings, that college teammates and competition creates," he said. "That should be a part of why we put so much time into this amazing game."
Finally, he stresses accountability and professionalism in every decision, both on and off the soccer field.
"Each player has taken ownership of one aspect of this program and are leading the way in developing and implementing and communicating that role and aspect," Meek said. "And they are thinking about more than just this year. They are thinking about how this part of the program, whether it be social media or team identity or team policies or fundraising, and thinking about how it affects them and their immediate team and also how it will affect the team in 10 or 20 years."
Meek wants to use those ideals to accomplish some very specific goals for his students in his first year on campus. It might sound like a lot to get done, but the players already have a great foundation and are mature beyond their years, he said.
"We will graduate all three seniors and start with a 100 percent graduation rate for my tenure," he said. "We will play with passion and life. We will engage the local community. We will engage and interact with all of the amazing groups and organizations and other teams at Chicago State. We will strive for a 3.5 team GPA. And we will be the team no one wants to play in our conference: a team that won't give up; a team that plays with determination and heart; and a team that believes in itself."
Despite missing the relationships and the program he spent so much time building at Assumption, Meek is embracing the new challenge at Chicago State. He's already brought in a new staff of assistants, and he said he extremely fond of the CSU campus. This comfort level should ease the transition and help make for an exciting initial season on the field for the Cougars.
"The school has also been very surprising," he said. "It is beautiful, and there are so many little surprises I discover each day that have been unexpected. They aren't publicized, and they aren't known by most people, but that hasn't diminished the influence the school and the girls on the team and the many amazing people I've met in the past five weeks has had on me and this program's new vision and culture."
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