Kickin’ it new school

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A new collegiate sport isn’t often introduced to a four-year university. In fact, for UVU, it hasn’t happened in 10 years. But Utah Valley announced, on the same day that it announced its entry into the Western Athletic Conference, that a men’s soccer program will be created.  Feb. 27, UVU took a giant leap forward, hiring Greg Maas, the head coach of the Real Salt Lake Utah U-17 team. It was quite a journey for Maas to get where he is now.

“I started playing soccer at four to five years of age,” Maas said. “I was also a two-sport athlete [in high school] with a heavy focus in baseball and soccer. I led the state my senior year in shutouts and was an all-state goalkeeper.”

Maas was coached by the late and legendary Clive Charles, who coached both the men and women’s soccer team at the university. Charles passed away in 2003 of prostate cancer.

IMG_0609“He was a tremendous mentor and a friend,” Maas said. “He continues to serve as a positive influence in my life, just like my father.”

Maas went on to play for the University of Portland and never looked back. He also played five years professionally for FC Portland and had much success on that level as well. With his playing years behind him, Maas can still find his inner player as he looks to coach the Wolverines of Utah Valley.

“I’ve had this unique and uncanny ability to relate very well to players and translate the game through my experiences to them,” Maas said.

With UVU now taking steps toward making the soccer team complete, the next step is hiring an assistant coach before recruiting any players. When recruiting does begin, Maas looks to focus on the local talent before searching abroad.

What makes this coach unique from other coaches is his involvement in social media. With Twitter part of his life-blood, Maas looks to incorporate his tweets to help students learn and be motivated.

“I think it is critical to relate to these kids both on and off the field,” Maas said. “Social media is a tremendous network to disseminate information and certainly, the way I look at it, is provide motivational opportunities to players. The social media aspect is a way that I can engage, not only the local, but a much broader audience as far as what we’re doing and trying to do something that’s unique to our environment. We have 35,000 students here and my goal is to engage every single one of them with what we’re doing here.”

With the men’s soccer season a year and a half away, Maas looks to get a larger following as they prepare to hire an assistant coach as well as recruiting for the 2014 season. With his experience in both playing collegiate soccer and coaching youth soccer, Maas may very well be holding a trophy at the end of the 2014 season.

“When we began the search for UVU’s first men’s soccer coach, we had lofty aspirations,” said Jared Sumsion, associate athletic director for External Operations and men’s soccer administrator. “We wanted a steadfast leader, a savvy soccer mind, and someone who would embrace Utah’s esteemed soccer community. Based on that criterion, Greg Maas is the complete package.”

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