With the shocking departure of former head coach Matt Edwards in the rearview mirror, the Knox College men’s soccer team is preparing to move forward. Shortly following the arrival of Coach Tyler Sheikh, TKS sat down with the new head coach, Assistant Coach Clint Moore and several current players.
The Knox Student: Alright coach, why don’t you introduce yourself, and tell me a little about you?
Tyler Skeikh: Tyler, obviously. Super excited to be here. I think the most important thing for me is to bring an energy that matches the campus’, certainly with the excitement around the team having come off as regular season championship… Some of my philosophies and ideals are similar to that of the building in team building and culture building, and program building that my predecessor Matt and Clint have been doing here. And more than that, it’s the guys on the team that have bought into it, into being good students
and being good people, and I believe that’s paired with the fact that they’re good players.
TKS: So I’m guessing it was at least in part the players that drew you here. But are there any other factors that brought you here?
TS: Yeah. It was the education, and beyond that it was the people. Certain conversations with [Director of International Student Services and Admission] Josh Ferchau, Dean Behling, definitely Clint and [Director of Athletics] Chad Eisele in the Athletics offices. Right from the get-go I had an interview with Chad and went into dinner with the team, and the kids fired away some poignant questions, different than other interviews I’ve been on. But I also at some point along the way felt like I could be myself with them, too. And I think that’s kind of the campus as a whole for students when they come here. It’s serious, it’s going to be rigorous, but you can also be yourself. But let’s not kid ourselves, Knox has a heck of a team.
TKS: Definitely some excitement in this program. So what do you think of the squad Coach Edwards left you?
TS: I think they’re incredibly balanced. I also think they’re going to find a lot of difficulty next year. I don’t think anything’s going to be a cakewalk. I think now we’re not sneaking up on anyone. And they went from being out of the postseason, to being in the postseason, to snagging first place… It’s not easy, and they faced a lot of heartbreak… You can see that there’s definitely a drive in this team to compete. You can see it in the way they work out, in the way they carry themselves around the campus. They know business hasn’t been finished. There’s a lot of work to be done still.
TKS: As you were saying, you’ve already gotten to know the team. Have you been able to start forming any personal relationships with the players?
TS: Yeah! They’ve all taken the time to come up and talk to me, and vice-versa. I think part of the perks of the job is that I get to work with young men. This group happens to be an awesome group, from the freshmen straight through to the juniors. I think someone who’s made that transition as easy it can be – and believe me, it’s not easy – has been Clint. As far as I’m concerned, as far as the guys are concerned, we have two head coaches on campus right now, and that’s a huge factor in keeping the success going, keeping the standards going.
TKS: What sort of climate are you trying to build for the team, and how do you think you’ll be able to go about achieving this?
TS: I think there’s a lot of similarities. You need to be a good person first. Act appropriately. I always use the phrase “act accordingly.” The guys are going to continue to be staples on campus for good people. That balance of being a good person is going to translate into them hitting the books hardest, and then they’re going to kick a little butt on the pitch as well. So I think all those three things are going to be staples for me. It’s going to start with respecting yourself, and I think they’ve been doing that. There will be little bumps along the way, but they’re such a close-knit group that they’re going to get through it. I’m going to be there to ride the wave with them. Goals for us is the championship or bust… If you expect anything less, less is what you’ll get. Everyone on campus should expect a little bit more.
TKS: How’s the transition been moving from one coach to the other, for the team and for you?
Clint Moore: I think truly the transition has been, not better than expected, but I think it’s been fantastic. Speaking about the guys first and foremost, as a new head coach coming in here, all you can ask for is a chance. When Tyler speaks there’s eye contact, their chests are out, they’re attentive. I think that’s all you can ask for as a new head coach coming into a new place. They’ve given him an opportunity. Tyler is fantastic. The reason he got the job is because he embraces Division III. He embraces what Knox is, beyond just soccer. It’s all the other things. It’s study halls, it’s “hey, do you need help with this?” Forming those relationships. That’s what DIII is, and that’s what Knox should be about and is about.
TKS: Is there anything either of you would like to say to the student body as a whole about what we’re trying to achieve next year? Supporting the team and coming out more?
CM: First of all, coming out more, that would be a task in itself, as the support the student body has shown the soccer program especially has been absolutely fantastic. They were a huge part. The institution has created a home field advantage. There’s a reason we’ve lost only a couple games in the last two years here. The student body’s been absolutely fantastic. It comes from our guys being pretty good guys around campus, and with that comes responsibility to just be good people. As the campus has a distinctly international flavor, a diverse group of young men that come from all over the world kind of representing campus as a whole… Just keep coming out. It makes a difference… I would urge beyond just soccer, come out to other sporting events. It really makes a difference. Just like you want people to come for the plays, or go see the amazing Choir performing, or even Jazz Night on a Thursday! That’s cool, that’s support and that’s what we should all be doing.
TKS: So as one of the main strikers, what are your goals for this upcoming season, if you can share them?
Junior Nathaniel Logie, forward: I don’t have any personal goals. The main goal for me is to win the Championship and play in the NCAA Tournament.
TKS: With the Championship run last year, what do you think you guys need to improve on this coming year?
Junior Charles Edemba, Defender: The team right now has everything we need to repeat the same feats from last season again. I think the main thing now is to not become complacent and just keep working hard. Obviously we have a new coach, so we’ll be trying out new things in practice and see where that takes us. The main thing for the group is to stay focused and keep working hard everyday.
TKS: As some of your teammates have already said, you guys are aiming to go to the Championship and trying to enter the NCAA Tournament. But do you have any personal goals?
CE: I think for our team it’s just the team goals, focusing on achieving what we’ve set out to do as a unit. Our goal is to win together as a team. That’s the bottom line.