Reprinted with permission of the News-Register. By Logan Brandon, Aug. 13, 2019. Find more News-Register stories here.
Steve Simmons faces yet another new frontier in the soccer world. Considering his past success, including a head coaching stint with the Wildcats in the late ‘90s, Linfield believes it has the perfect person to rejuvenate the program.
Simmons, Linfield’s Director of Soccer and Women’s Soccer Head Coach, enters his first year at the helm of the team. He possesses an enthusiastic vision for the future, one which includes a complete overhaul of the Wildcat soccer facilities.
The Concordia graduate aims to boost the appeal of Linfield soccer through improved infrastructure and a talented player base. Simmons feels his experience with the US Soccer Grassroots program prepared him for such a monumental aspiration.
“US Soccer has been awesome for me,” he noted. “It’s forced me to think outside the box. I have a lot of ideas I can bring back to Linfield.”
Most of his plans tie directly to improving the soccer facilities. First step: replacing the natural grass field for a turf playing surface.
“With Phase One, we would like to be done by spring. Our women’s lacrosse team also plays on the soccer field, so resurfacing the field with turf is something we want to be completed before spring,” said Simmons.
An accomplished men’s soccer head coach at Oregon State University from 2009-17, winning 63 games in nine seasons, including a Pac-10 runner-up finish in 2009, Simmons leaped at the opportunity to return to Linfield in 2017.
“I maintained a lot of good relationships with Linfield administrators and staff, including (Director of Athletics) Garry Kilgore. When Garry and I discussed the Director of Soccer position, he mentioned his interest in adding me to the new leadership team in the athletic department,” noted Simmons.
“It was a great opportunity for me to return to my grassroots.”
With his lead position in the soccer program, Simmons outlined his primary responsibilities: improving the level of both soccer teams through operations, fundraisers, recruiting, team building and training.
Simmons’ excitement for the new position stemmed from talks with Kilgore and Linfield President Miles Davis regarding the future of soccer.
“I’m more than ready to move the needle with Garry and the rest of the Linfield administration. My interest in renovating the facilities is shared by Miles Davis, who has expressed his commitment to improving the program,” he explained.
As a head coach, Simmons plans to reconnect with former players and the local soccer community. Many alumni expressed admiration for the program’s new focus, said Simmons, while also sharing their positive experiences as Linfield soccer players.
When observing the prep talent in Yamhill County, Simmons lauded the programs at McMinnville and Yamhill-Carlton high schools. Relationship building, specifically with sources outside the college isn’t easy, he noted, but Simmons remains hopeful for the connection to the community.
While he admitted generating enthusiasm at a renowned football college like Linfield poses challenges, he isn’t shying away from any obstacles.
“I’m a culture/process guy. Culture leads to achieving goals. Our goal right now is to achieve the best possible experience for players and fans. The process will be slower, but we’re already seeing excellent movement,” said Simmons.
“I’m committed to the full-time building of this program.”
Simmons also shared his admiration for the recruiting class of former women’s head coach Cole McCool and the current direction of men’s head coach Adam Howard.
“On the women’s side, we return 10 seniors, which reflects on our past coaching staff. Our seniors are desperate to win – they want to win. I’ve already worked with them in the spring, so they’re ahead of the learning curve.”
“I was also really pleased with how Adam Howard set the table for success on the men’s team last season. There are definitely indicators of growth. I’m very excited about his recruiting class,” added Simmons.
Overall, Simmons appears more than ready to embrace the advancement of the Linfield soccer program, saying, “It’s a lot of fun. I’m ready for this opportunity, and I’m certainly better now than I was when I left.”
Linfield women’s soccer kicks off its season at 7 p.m. Saturday August 24, in a home match against Western Oregon University. The Wildcat men open their campaign Tuesday August 27 at 7 p.m. in a home exhibition against Corban.