Rio Grande --- The University of Rio Grande RedStorm women's soccer program will have a new leader on the sidelines for the 2011 season. Former standout men's soccer player and women's assistant coach Callum Morris will take over the reins, becoming the second head coach in the history of the still young program. Morris succeeds Amber Oliver, whose contract was not renewed.
The new coach is certainly no stranger to Rio Grande, having played four years for the highly successful men's team and he has served as an assistant for the women's program for the last two years. Morris finished up his playing career for Rio Grande in 2008.
During that season, Morris was a key cog in a powerful offensive attack for Rio Grande, scoring 14 goals and handing out nine assists in helping Rio to a 19-4-1 overall record and a national runner-up finish. For his efforts he earned 2nd team All-American Mideast Conference honors that season. He finished his career with 22 goals and 18 assists.
Morris, a native of Middlesborough, England, has had previous coaching experience with the Southern Ohio Fury Club Team and has conducted summer camps for Rio Grande the last three years.
"Obviously I would like to thank the people that were involved last year, Amber and the other assistant, Chris Skarratt," Morris said.
Rio Grande is coming off its best season in program history, posting a 7-9-1 record and 3-5 in the Mid-South Conference. Morris would like to build on that heading into the 2011 campaign. "Definitely, it's the best season we've had since the program started, I think it will be very tough next year, but I think we'll able to do it by bringing in the correct recruits and hopefully bringing back the players that we had last season," he said.
Rio was a very good 6-1 at Evan Davis Field last season.
Morris has a busy slate as he steps into the head coach's chair with scheduling, recruiting and adding assistant coaches. "With how late it was with the appointment, we're behind by definitely a few months," Morris said. "The biggest thing is trying to get recruits as quick as we can and also trying to get a decent schedule together. It's very hard as other teams have already had theirs (schedules) filled out since the fall, so it's hard to try to get a competitive schedule together, but we're trying to do our best at the moment."
"Myself and Chris as G.A.'s (graduate assistants) last season, we had a great relationship, we knew each other in an out. Hopefully I can bring another two individuals, whether it be male or female to have the same relationship and help the head coach with recruiting and obviously, coaching the team and making sure that we can progress and move forward," Morris added. "The biggest thing coming in is having an understanding and everyone is open to say what they want, obviously there's no wrong answer, there's no wrong question and hopefully we'll get a staff that we can blend together and move forward as a team instead of just individuals."
Morris has plenty of familiarity with the current roster, having coached them at Rio and many of them at the club level. "The freshmen and sophomores that we have at Rio, I have been coaching since they were barely teens, so I have a great understanding of them as players and it's just about bringing in the next batch of freshmen players and hopefully they'll have enough about them technique-wise and maturity levels that they'll be able to contribute to the team and hopefully we can push forward and be better than what we were last season."
The new Rio mentor talked about how he will approach things from a game-plan standpoint. "Every head coach has their own philosophy on how they want to play, but I think what we implemented last season with the team worked with that team and hopefully what we do with the incoming players we'll be able to push forward," Morris said. "It's all about building a platform and hopefully with that platform we had last season, the next stepping block is this season and hopefully we can push forward."
Having been through the rigors of the Mid-South Conference the past two seasons, Morris knows how tough the competition will be. He talked about the goals he has for his first year as the head coach. "Obviously, it's a brand new program and trying to improve every year is the main thing," Morris said. "We've lost a lot of players in the past few months with graduation and players moving on to newer ventures, but it's about trying to bring in players and recruit players to fill up spots."
"We'll look to improve and move further up the table on last year's standard," Morris added. "We'll have to wait and see, hopefully we can do that and I want to do that and hopefully the team does. It's going to be difficult with the recruiting class that we haven't recruited yet."
"We will look forward to playing in the Mid-South, it's a strong standard, obviously playing Lindsey Wilson every year, you can put yourself up against a nationally ranked team and you can see how far you are from actually being at that level."
Morris knows there will be an adjustment from being a head coach at the club level to being a head coach at the collegiate level. "Definitely, club level is very different; it's about nursing players through," he said. "At the college level the players should already be nursed and there should be a platform with the players already built, with ability, so it's about moving on and trying to get them to progress themselves and obviously trying to progress the team forward with them on the team."
"The biggest thing for a college team is to play as a team," Morris added. "Having been a part of a very successful men's team, hopefully we can progress in the future and try to get where the Rio men's team has gotten."