Former UNCA player named as interim head coach for the men’s soccer team

Roman Uglehus

Sports Writer 

ruglehus@unca.edu

Photo By Adrian Etheridge                                  UNC Asheville’s men’s soccer team form a huddle during last season game against Georgia Southern, who they will compete against during a preseason tournament.

After spending almost three months without a head coach, UNC Asheville’s director of athletics Janet Cone names Mick Giordano as the interim head coach of the men’s soccer team.

“We are excited to have one of our soccer alumni take the reins of our men’s program. Mick’s passion for UNC Asheville and our soccer program along with his recent experience as head coach of the very successful Asheville City SC team will serve him well as our new coach,” Cone said in an interview. 

Giordano has a long history with UNC Asheville. Giordano first came to UNCA to play for the Bulldogs as a transfer from UNC Charlotte. Giordano transferred as a junior in 2012 and played his final two years of college soccer here at UNCA. According to Girodano, his new position as head coach feels unique.

“It’s good, you know. It’s maybe a little surreal being as a player, and going through it as a transfer, and working my way from there. Coming back to different stints as an assistant. It’s certainly weird, still trying to get used to walking in and going to the right to the big office instead of going left into the the assistance office. But certainly it’s a privilege and there’s a lot of excitement to it,” Giordano said.

After graduating and spending a year playing abroad professionally in Germany, Giordano came back to work his first coaching job as an assistant for the Bulldogs in the 2015 season. Giordano then went on to work at other coaching jobs at Wofford College and Wake Forest University before returning again to Asheville to help coach the Bulldogs. The Greenville native came back to serve as an assistant coach and team’s recruiting coordinator from the start of the 2018 season until his appointment as the interim head coach earlier this month. 

According to forward Tayson Hichman, the team is 

“It’s been great, he was a really good assistant for us in the fall, and he coached me through Asheville City and I know he’s a good coach so we’re pretty excited about it,” Hichman said. “We’re used to his coaching style. He’s really a nose to the ground hard worker and that’s something that could really rub off on us.”

Giordano said he has been lucky to work under such talented head soccer coaches throughout his coaching career.

“I’ve been extremely blessed in my coaching career to be around three of the best coaches that have ever been in the game between coach Mennell here, coach Bobby Muuss at Wake Forest, along with the staff there, and then coach Ralph Polson down at Wofford,” Giordano said.

The most noteworthy coaching experience during Giordano’s career could be seen at his time on the men’s soccer coaching staff at Wake Forest, one of the top soccer programs in the nation. While at the Deacons, Wake Forest went 19-3-3 overall and advanced to the NCAA College Cup finals. Giordano said he is grateful for his experience at Wake Forest. 

“At wake, there’s a reason why they’re the best, and there’s a reason why they are the team to beat. They are the place to go in college soccer just with how they run every single aspect of their program, academics, community service, everything about it. So spending just under two years there and the amount of things I learned there was probably equal to about ten years somewhere else and I could never say thank you enough to them taking me under their wing and teaching a young coach that,” Giordano said.

According to Giordano, his biggest help in his coaching career has been his father.

“It’s one of those where I’ve just been really fortunate and I think the best situation is my dad. My dad’s a coach, and a director of a club, so being around him and seeing how he coaches and then having me start help him when I was 16, just to learn the other side of it to learn the coaching side, how you can see it differently. I think he really probably played the biggest role in it,” said the Greenville native.

After having all of these coaching experiences, Giordano said he now is ready to put it all to the test under his new role as UNCA’s head coach.

“Just trying to take all of those experiences that I’ve had as a player overseas, as a player here, as a coach here, and all the different setups between all my club teams to everything, all the unique situations now just try and go tie it all together and and go put it out there on the field,” Giordano said. 

With the team currently starting their spring preseason training, Giordano said he and the team are focused on getting organized and working hard in training.

“I think just right now, through the spring, it’s just all about getting the culture and the mindset in the right direction. It’s just one of those where we want to make sure we know what’s going on, we’ve established everything, and then we just have this foundation of we’re just going to go work and work as hard as we can every single day. Sometimes it’s not going to go our way, but as long as we can look ourselves in the face at the end of the day that we worked as hard as we possibly could, and that’s all we can ask for,” Giordano said.

According to the players, the team is ready to get to work in the preseason.

“I can’t wait for the preseason to come around, I’m really excited about it,” said Hichman. “We haven’t really gone over tactics yet, it’s just been more like technical stuff, but I just feel like next week we’ll start getting more into the tactics and getting ready for our games but what we’re trying to get out of it is really just getting ready for the fall and trying to get everyone sharp and ready.”

Definitely looking forward to it, I can’t wait to start playing again with the boys. Just see the best formation and the best lineup and rotations for the team and just to get out there and get some game time, it’s going to be good for the whole team,” said sophomore Miles Peay.

Winning only eight times out of a total of 52 games, the team has had a disappointing last three seasons. However, Giordano said he and the team try to focus on both on and off the field results, although he expects the team to start getting better results this upcoming season.

“I think you can go ahead and certainly look at results and say, ‘Well, that was a tough year or these are tough years and whatnot.’ I think results only tell part of the story. For us, we’ve had the best male team GPA out of all the athletic male teams here, so the things we’re doing off the field in the classroom are certainly something we want to continue to do. We know we need to get the results right on the field for sure, and we’ve got to get something sorted. But ultimately, we try not to look at just results on the field, we try to look at the big picture,” Giordano said.

According to Giordano, he and the team are ready to get to work and aim for better results as the team prepare for their fall season.

“We know we need to get some results on the field, and that’s going to be our number one goal right away. Team has talked, they want to win the Big South, which is always easy to say, but we’ve got to break it down to even smaller steps and that’s something that we’ve already started. Once August rolls around, we have to have the right mindset to just go and grind, find ways to compete. We work as hard as we can, positive things will happen,” Giordano said.

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