New interim head soccer coach focuses ‘on the now’
By: Brittany Pavlichko | Sept. 24 2016
Kean University announced that previous assistant men’s soccer coach, John Velasco, would take on the position as interim head coach for the Cougars on Aug. 3.
Velasco’s focus for the upcoming season, which kicked off on TK, is to live up to former head coach Rob Irvine, who led the Cougars to an impressive 26-14-1 record and two New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) appearances over the past two seasons.
“One thing I say is, regardless of how your team is rostered or structured, we take it here one game at a time,” Velasco said.
Under Irvine’s leadership, despite the team’s overall winning record from the past two seasons, the Cougars have struggled in conference play with only a 10-8 standing. The NJAC has proven to be one of the toughest conferences in Division III. Additionally, with 10 returning seniors including all NJAC honorable mention players, Steven Osores and Robert Barrera, the program is seeking a deep playoff run this year.
“Coach John inspires us every game by constantly reminding us of our goals this season, to win the NJAC championship,” said Carmine Colasurdo, a senior soccer player at Kean.
“He reminds us of the things we’ve been through as a team, of the extra hard work we have put in day in and day out regardless of the odds against us,” Colasurdo said.
Velasco will bring a lot to the table for the men this upcoming season with his educational and knowledgeable soccer background. He has been in four conference championships: two at East Stroudsburg University and two at Montclair State University. He worked as an East Coast Regional Tour Manager at Nike and as an academy staff coach at Columbus Crew Soccer Club.
Since Velasco has been in the college circuit for many years, he has seen the diverse cultures of soccer programs, which is his motivation for coaching. He does not face the pressure of Irvine’s success with the team. Instead, he believes it is a great challenge and is going to try his best to continue to build the growth and motivation of the team.
“The idea, the goal, would be to continue the growth that’s something the boys would strive for and I know as a coach I would do anything to facilitate that train of thought,” Velasco said.“But I think those are the kind of goals that we want as a team, as a staff and as a program here at Kean.”
The next game is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Rutgers-Newark.