Soccer star returns to coach
“I’m cautious personally, and [I] look for the right individual who can take that step. Nate’s been that individual.” Mark Serdjenian, the 36-year veteran coach of the men’s soccer team, has extremely positive things to say about Nate Seiberling.
Seiberling is a 2011 graduate and former Colby soccer player who is participating in the nine-semester education program at Colby. Last year, knowing he would be on campus for this semester, Seiberling approached Serdjenian with the idea of staying around the soccer team and serving as a volunteer assistant coach. Serdjenian saw a natural fit: “Nate’s been a student of the game since the day he arrived at Colby.…He loves the times when, as a coaching staff, we just sit and talk soccer tactics, personnel and how to problem-solve collectively.”
Serdjenian said that beyond mere enthusiasm, Seiberling has been a valuable asset to the team: “He’s part of the coaching staff and a positive addition in all respects.” Seiberling has been a big hit not only amongst the coaching staff, but also with the players. Co-captain Cory Hendrickson ’12 said, “He has allowed us [Hendrickson and co-captain Matthew Boyes-Watson ’12] to lead the team in our own style while providing constant support whenever we need him. In fact, he has been an invaluable resource this year for the two of us to draw on tradition and better understand our roles as both leaders and players.”
Seiberling’s been thrilled to be back on board with the team, claiming that coaching is “the best part of being back here for this semester.” However, the transition hasn’t exactly been easy. Hendrickson said that “the upperclassmen players who did play with Nate during his Colby career all have a tremendous amount of respect for him as both a player, a leader, a coach and as an individual,” and Seiberling agreed that he generally receives respect from the players. While Seiberling is afforded the utmost respect among opposing coaches and players, he occasionally finds it difficult to approach players who used to be his peers.
The biggest challenge the former player faces is providing criticism and confronting players whose attitudes or work outputs aren’t where they need to be. Despite these circumstances, however, all involved are happy with the transition and Seiberling’s presence on the team; Hendrickson said, “We could not have picked a person more suited for the job and we are all extremely grateful to have had him as a coach this year.”
One beneficiary of Seiberling’s presence is Colby’s goalkeeping corps. Although he was not a goalkeeper in his playing days at Colby, Seiberling trained as a goalie coach this summer. In the words of Hendrickson, he trained “for the heck of it.” The results have been impressive. Colby has four goalkeepers who Hendrickson says “we are comfortable with…in the net for us in any New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) game. This is quite rare at the college level, and I believe it to be mostly as a result of his individual training with them.” Ben Joslin ’12, Josh Richards ’14, Peter Quayle ’15, and Cody Funkhouser ’15 have shown tremendous improvement this season.
While Seiberling doesn’t expect to be back volunteering next season, he says that coaching this year has helped ease his transition away from Colby. The Mules are grateful for his presence as they take the field against Bates College on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in a game with huge postseason implications.