Anatomy of a coaching staff: The men behind UVU soccer: Part 1

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Photo by Brad Curnow

Much has been written about Greg Maas, the head coach of the Utah Valley University men’s soccer team. The accomplishments that he and the team have been able to achieve in their inaugural seasons are impressive. However, it’s important to remember that Maas doesn’t do what he does alone. According to him, the team wouldn’t be much of a team without his staff.

“[Without the staff] it might be a sinking ship, to be honest with you,” said Maas. “I had players when I first was hired in mind that I wanted to recruit, but my first responsibility was to go after a staff that I know I can trust and will bring an incredible amount of experience and knowledge, both on and off the field, to this program.”

Maas acted quickly after being hired in 2013, bringing in an associate head coach, Matt Ellinger. They had worked together before in the Real Salt Lake youth development system. Maas chose Ellinger in part because he felt that they would have a good balance in their coaching styles, which would benefit the players.

“We have a yin and yang approach to it,” said Maas. “I’m kind of the bald scary guy, so to speak, out with the guys and I dictate the session and how things are run and he balances all of that out.”

Having already worked with some of the players they had in mind for UVU, they saw it as an opportunity to build off of previous successes they had had in their coaching careers. Ellinger also believes that starting a Division I program with someone he already knew well was an advantage.

“We both kind of knew what to expect from each other so there was no feeling out process. That’s been good because I think both of us are probably hard to work with, so together we make a pretty good pair,” said Ellinger. “I knew what kind of team we wanted to build and I knew what kind of character we wanted to bring in, what type of students we wanted to bring in, so it made it pretty seamless.”

Ellinger is involved in nearly every day-to-day operation of the team, including travel, uniforms, compliance and recruiting. He prides himself on being a soccer coach and not just a gofer who runs errands all day.

“Coach is amazing in that he lets his staff coach. We are very much involved with every decision that comes along, both on the field and off the field,” said Ellinger. “The two of us really balance each other out as far as personalities go and also on the field, but we’re very similar as far as tactics and how we want to build the team.”

A lot goes into the product that Wolverine fans see on game day at Clyde Field. While Maas may be the face of the team and get a lot of the attention for the program’s successes, none of it would be possible without the contributions of his coaching staff.

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