The latest guest on New England Soccer Journal’s “The Goal” podcast is Stonehill College men’s soccer head coach Jim Reddish.
It’s exciting times for Stonehill, which will begin competing at the Division 1 level this fall. Reddish’s squad will be competing in the Northeast Conference, after having previously competed in the Division 2 Northeast-10.
The Skyhawks have matches scheduled at Quinnipiac (Sept. 21), at Dartmouth (Sept. 24) and at UConn (Oct. 26) as part of their inaugural journey into D1. Thirteen of their 17 matches in 2022 will be played on the road.
Reddish, a former Stonehill player himself, is entering his 13th season as the program’s head coach.
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Here are some highlights from our discussion with Reddish.
On his initial thoughts when Stonehill announced it was moving to Division 1:
Reddish: “First, let me say, it’s an amazing move for the college and is exciting in every way. I’m a big supporter of it. But it happened fast. I mean, the president came out at the end of February and presented to us and said, ‘hey, we’re considering a move to Division 1, and we were quietly working on it for the previous two years during COVID.’ We didn’t know anything about it. I’ve been around Stonehill since the fall of 1992 and not once did anybody ever mention to me the possibility of going to Division 1. We’ve been in Division 2 for a long time in the Northeast-10, which has been an excellent conference, but Stonehill has been growing.”
On how being a Division 1 program will help with recruiting:
Reddish: “I think I have seven Massachusetts kids coming in — former development academy players — so we’re kind of hitting that market anyway, and a draw is the fact that we don’t have to go overseas. Especially in Division 2, there’s a lot of older international players. Again, we didn’t have that. We provide an opportunity to compete at a high level where that wasn’t the market that we are in. I expect that market could change a little bit. We’ve already expanded our reach.”
On the challenges of being a Division 2 program:
Reddish: “There’s just not a lot of (them). We’re reducing some of these small schools in the middle of nowhere. You know, you see the stories. The population is declining. Less kids are going to college in coming years, and our leadership was extremely proactive to get out the door before others did it. I expect others might follow because there’s some strong Division 3 schools. Now, some schools might say, ‘hey, we should go down (a division)’ and we’ve seen that happen. But there’s a lot there — 84 Division three schools in New England. So, you go into another saturated market. In Division 2, it’s kind of like you have a high level of play, you’re allowed to give some athletic scholarship money, but not everybody does it right. It’s not an equal playing field.”
On the buzz around campus about the move to Division 1:
Reddish: “I think when it first happened, it was a surprise. It was a shock. We had a big event on campus in April and I told the players, ‘hey, listen, this is going to be in the newspapers.’ As soon as I found out, I let them know. I was, again, around the school for 30 years. This was all news to me. So, it was a culture shock for a lot of us. But once we had a week to process it , we realized all the upside.”
On forming new rivalries within the Northeast Conference:
Reddish: “Obviously, we’ll have some old opponents we haven’t played in a while. Merrimack would seem to be the closest school and a former NE-10 school — the coaches are friends of mine. I’ve actually talked to them a lot in the last three years, after they’ve gone through the transition. So they were obviously going to be a natural rival for us and that’s exciting.”
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