Brittany Jones is in her first season as head coach of the Florida Southern College women’s soccer team, after being chosen last February to replace Ben Strawbridge.
Strawbridge left FSC to take an assistant position at the University of Arkansas.
The change brings Jones to FSC from her alma mater, Stetson University. According to Jones, becoming a head coach has its perks.
“Its always good to make your own schedule,” Jones said. “I’m learning every day, and that’s what being a head coach is all about. You’re learning by trial and error, so it’s been a good experience.”
The new role has brought new challenges for the former standout defender. Jones says her biggest obstacle has been developing relationships with the players.
“I think there is such a big relationship component to coaching females, in terms of wanting them to be able to understand you and relate to you, so you can actually teach them things,” Jones said.
According to senior forward Kayla Wilhide, Jones’ mentality is getting through to the players, though it differs from that of Strawbridge.
“Coach Strawbridge was very laid-back and fun, which is nice, but sometimes you don’t know where to draw the line and be serious,” Wilhide said. “With Coach Jones, we know exactly what is expected of us in training and in games.”
Jones agreed that the players know what she expects of them. She added that a positive attitude, a willingness to get better every day and a great work-rate are all she will ask of her players.
Unfortunately for Jones and the Lady Mocs, her tenure has gotten off to a rocky start. The Lady Mocs currently sport a 3-4-1 record.
The combination of a slow start and a new coach has the potential to hurt the confidence of the team. Jones combats this by trying to keep team-morale high, while continuing to improve.
“There is a lot of energy and emotion put into this game, so when you don’t get the results you want, of course people get frustrated,” Jones said. “You just have to keep everyone positive and moving forward.”
Despite the slow start, Wilhide does not foresee a mutiny, any time soon. On the contrary, she believes Jones’ system has been successful.
“The slow start is not because of our system or strategy,” Wilhide said. “We have a young team and haven’t been finishing our opportunities, but we’re definitely starting to mesh as a team.”
It is easy to look at the record and see a poor start, but Jones’ main concern is the long-term success of the program.
“I think, most importantly, we are beginning to establish a foundation of a program and that’s where our priorities are right now,” Jones said. “We aren’t focused so much on results, but on building a program that is going to play good soccer.”
The vigor with which Jones approaches coaching is also rubbing off on the players, according to Wilhide.
“Coach Jones is very focused and very goal-oriented,” Wilhide said. “She is really serious about reaching our goals and she expects us to be serious about it too.”
The Lady Mocs will look to turn Jones’ inaugural season around as they enter Sunshine State Conference play tonight.