Lolla is more than a coach to his players

By on September 2, 2008

By Whitney Spencer

In the past few seasons, the University of Louisville men’s soccer team has established their credibility as a team that can win. Now they are ready to take their program to the next level, and they think they have found the key factor, head coach Ken Lolla.

“He holds us to high standards,” Aaron Clapham, senior midfielder, said. “You have to perform every single day.”

After guiding the University of Akron to an Elite Eight and then leading U of L through some of its toughest competition, Lolla has created a solid foundation for success.

“It started with those things that are in my life first,” Lolla said.  “How I act as a person.  My drive to improve as a person and my drive to get better every single day. When I hold that as an important part of my life, it serves as a model for the players. Then it is easier for me to hold them to a certain standard and expectation.”

The Cardinals have made a commitment to each other in order to reach success. Lolla believes commitment to development and growth individually will help his players collectively better themselves. They’re continued commitment will lead to their continued success.

With excitement about the 2008 season continually building, many have high expectations because of the dramatic improvements the team has made. Feeling as if they had played some of their best soccer and gaining even better results, that momentum has helped the team define themselves in all areas.

“When I first got here, I felt the image of the team was one that they were self-defeated,” Lolla said. “They didn’t see themselves as capable or worthy. Right now I think there is a healthy self-image that we see ourselves as not only capable but the expectation to be successful, not only on the soccer field but in the classroom and community.”

The belief system Lolla carries with him has made him more than just a coach to his players. Highly regarded as one of the best when he arrived at U of L, his players experience this first hand.

“He’s one of the best in the country,” John Jonke, senior left back, said. “Inspirational, a great leader, and a role model to pretty much the whole team.”

The team will face many big challenges this season. With top teams like Notre Dame University and Indiana University along with several talented Big East foes, the Cardinals still keep expectations high.

“I think it’s a great schedule, especially on the road we have some very good contest,” Lolla said. “The schedule we have will us help develop on the road. [In the Big East Eight of our eighteen teams were in the NCAA tournament last year. It is going to be very competitive from that standpoint and create an opportunity for us to be in a good spot come the end of the year.”

With a depth chart that Lolla considers the team’s strongest asset, they feel confident in every player. Lolla named several players, including Aaron Clapham, junior midfielder Othaniel Yanez and junior defender Phil Edington as possible All-American prospects. Even with such talent on and off the field Lolla stresses the importance of each player’s role in the team’s success.

Ultimately before seasons end the goal is the same for every person associated with the men’s soccer team.

“Our goal is a Big East title and then a national championship,” Clapham said. “And we’re not settling for anything less. We’re going to hold ourselves to those goals and hope we achieve them.”

About Michael Kennedy

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