During Christmas break, while much of the university was shut down, the athletic department was still hard at work as they hired Brian Stock as the new men’s soccer head coach on Dec. 13, 2011.
After finishing with a winning record (10-9-1) for the first time in a decade, the Pioneers decided to hire a full-time head coach to replace part-time head coach Chris Carmichael, who in the last three years led the Pioneers to a 21-33-2 record. Certainly one of the attractive characteristics Stock has as the Pioneers finish their process to becoming a NCAA Division II program is his wealth of experience in NCAA Division I as a coach and player.
His credentials include successfully establishing the women’s soccer program at Division I Southern Utah University for the past 11 years, being a women’s assistant head coach at Youngstown State University from 1998-2001, serving as an assistant coach for the prestigious Akron men’s soccer program from 1996-1998 and playing as the goalkeeper for the Zips for four years.
“The thing that I hope to bring to these players is the culmination of all that experience,” Stock said.
“I’ve been very blessed as a player and coach to match up against some great soccer mind and against great players,” Stock said. “Some of those experiences have been very joyous and very humbling but all of them have been educational and necessary for me in my growth as a soccer coach and person.”
In a way, coming to Malone is a bit of a homecoming for Stock. While he never actually took classes here, his sister and her husband did as they both graduated Pioneers. Also, as a kid he grew up going to First Friends Church.
“This is kind of a homecoming coming back, but the way I like to describe it is a new adventure in a familiar place,” Stock said.
Regarding his new team, Stock acknowledged and gave a lot of credit to this group for winning a lot of big games last year and bringing excitement to the men’s program.
The main goal he has for his team is to continue the success they achieved last year as he puts his own spin on it. For Stock, there are three things he would like to accomplish from the get-go.
[pullquote] I give this program a lot of credit for what they were able to achieve last year,” Stock said. “They were able to really notch some big wins and build a lot of momentum going forward in this program, and so there is a lot excitement among the ranks of Malone men’s soccer right now.” [/pullquote]
“Over the course of this semester I have three priorities,” Stock said. “First of all is just getting to know the players, getting to build relationship with them because I believe that is a big part of this job. Second is just to bring the structure and the organization that I want to see. And the third is to really cast a vision for next season.”
An example of Stock starting to build relationship with his players is the fact that he has scheduled one-on-one sit downs with each one of them. Apparently the meetings have left good impressions on leaders of last year’s team like sophomore midfielder Kelvin Aquino, who believes Stock will help take this team to another level of play.
“I think he really knows how to work with you,” Aquino said. “I like how he describes how he is actually going to help us play better soccer. I haven’t had a practice with him yet, but I think his practices will be run in a way that makes us better.”
Going forward a big challenge for this team, like every other Pioneer team, will be getting adjusted to the tough GLIAC conference and a legitimate NCAA Division II schedule.
“I think the biggest challenge is that at this level of the game there are no ‘easy’ games,” Stock said. “So the challenge will be to find a way to be at our best quality and at our best effort and mentality day in and day out.”
At the end of the day, being a man rooted deep in his faith and his experience makes Stock a perfect fit for the Pioneers according to Athletic Director Charlie Grimes.
“Brian brings a wealth of experience, both as a player and a coach at the NCAA Division I level,” Grimes said. “His skill set and deep Christian faith are excellent fits for the needs of our program at this time. I appreciate his rootedness in Stark County and look forward to seeing him guide our program to the NCAA Division II level.”