New goals: Schmidt transitions from Student Center to Spaulding

Matt Schmidt named new head coach of men’s soccer

Tom Benoit

A familiar face is leading men’s soccer this season.

Following the retirement of head coach Rick Scott in July, Matt Schmidt was chosen to step into the role of head coach.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity and kind of honored to be a part of this program, [it] has a really rich tradition,” Schmidt said. “[I’m] just excited about the opportunity to kind of carry some of those traditions and success forward.”

Schmidt is no stranger to Keene State athletics. He previously worked with men’s soccer as assistant coach from 2014 to 2017, and later rejoined the team’s coaching staff in March. 

He was introduced to athletics at an early age, in large part due to his grandfather, a former scout for the San Francisco 49ers. Schmidt said his grandfather, a first-generation three-sport athlete, taught him the importance of hard work through athletics.

“[Soccer] was an early outlet for me,” Schmidt said. “He was always somebody who just kind of encouraged me, instilled those values in me.”

That passion never left — he went on to play division I soccer at the University of Central Florida. He attributed his experience in collegiate athletics and the structure it provided to helping him get his degree.

There, he got his start in coaching, working at the local soccer summer camps. 

“[Coaching was] something that I always kind of stayed connected with no matter what I was doing,” Schmidt said. “I think it’s that unique opportunity to help people but also accomplish something in that season, both on the field and off.”

Schmidt then brought his coaching experience to the Monadnock region, serving as head coach for boy’s soccer at Keene High School, as well as athletic director and assistant boy’s soccer coach at Fall Mountain Regional High School.

This coaching experience, in addition to his work as Assistant Director of Transitions with the college’s orientation program, made him a perfect fit for the role, according to Director of Athletics Phil Racicot.

“Matt’s going to be able to bring to not just his own team, but the entire athletic department, an approach on how to better transition new students to our programs and really help us out across the board,” Racicot said.

Schmidt succeeds Rick Scott, who has led the college’s men’s soccer program for the past eight seasons. Under his leadership, the team made three appearances in the Little East Conference (LEC) championship game and won the title in 2019, according to the department’s announcement of his departure. Scott is also a member of the N.H. Soccer Hall of Fame.

Although he admits Schmidt has big shoes to fill, Racicot said he is capable of picking up on where Scott left off.

“I would say that the first thing that impresses you is his level of his care and his demeanor, so he cares about being great, being excellent, doing things the right way,” Racicot said. “His ability to relate the game of soccer and to teach it to other aspects of life are really what strike you the most.”

In his inaugural season as head coach, Schmidt said his hopes are twofold: developing a culture of respect both on and off the field, and competing to win. 

“One of our key cultural pieces is: good person, good student, good teammate, then good player, in that order,” Schmidt said.

He continued, “That’s being the good people, our values, not only hard work, but really how we carry ourselves, being dependable for each other,” he said. 

Although men’s soccer is off to a shaky start this season, losing to Clarkson University and State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh earlier this month, Schmidt said he is optimistic for the rest of the season as the team continues to work together.

“I’m excited about seeing how they figure that out, empowering them to figure those things out together,” he said. “I think as they keep coming together, I think there’s some really special things those guys will do.”

 

Caitlin Howard can be contacted at

choward@kscequinox.com

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