Nate Houser, Baker University head men’s and women’s soccer coach, has a difficult, but nice problem to have on his hands.
With the men’s and women’s soccer teams both advancing to the Sweet 16 of their respective national tournaments, Houser had a tough decision to make of which team to coach since they both play Monday, but at locations that are four hours apart from each other.
The women’s team will square off with Martin Methodist University (Tenn.) at 4 p.m. Monday in Decatur, Ala. while the men’s team will face Huston-Tillotson University (Texas) at 5 p.m. in Orange Beach, Ala.
“We starting with (Monday’s) game, I’m going to be with the men and (Assistant head coach) Davy Phillips is going to be with the women,” Houser said. “I felt that the girls are in a place that is going to be ultimately familiar. They are staying in the same hotel. They are playing the same team they played in the (second) round (of the last year’s tournament.) ... I think they are going to be in a place that is familiar and that is going to give them comfort, and all of them, including Davy were there last year.”
Although Houser certainly wants to be able to coach both teams, there is not anyone else Houser would rather have coaching the women’s team than Phillips.
“Davy has been fantastic for all four years he has been here,” Houser said. “I shared with him after last year’s tournament that I had ultimate trust in him. One of the hardest things for me to do is to let other people talk to or deal with my teams. (They are) as much his teams as they are mine.”
While Houser is confident that the women will have success because of their experience from the postseason run last year and Phillips’ assistance, he wants to be able to be with the men’s team to help them adjust to the national scene.
“With the guys, taking them to a brand new environment with all sorts of expectations is something that I think they will need a little help managing,” Houser said. “That is why I am going to be there for that first game.”
It was not easy for Houser to make his choice on which team to be with for the second round of each tournament, but he believes it is an attribute to the programs’ success to be one of four teams in the nation to have both the men’s and women’s soccer teams remaining in the Sweet 16.
“I think it means our ideas are ones that can work at a national level,” Houser said. “The support we get from the administration, with both (Athletic Director) Theresa (Yetmar) and (University President) Dr. (Pat) Long and the whole athletic department really, we’re just the next vehicle that is going on ... the fans that we’ve had at our games ... all of it has kind of snowballed into what is hopefully going to make Monday a great day.”