Men’s club team united by new coach

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When the men’s club soccer team began in 2001, it was a loosely-run student club with a two-game season. Their opponent for both games was the Marquette Redman high school team. Now, six years removed from those humble beginnings, the team has a head coach, a 20-man roster, a 13-game season and a new-found respect for team unity.

Gabe Logan, an assistant professor of history at Northern, stepped into the coaching role this fall. He has played soccer at the college level, as well as professionally in the American Soccer League (ASL) and the team hopes that his experience will be a benefit.

Despite the fact that Logan’s ASL career came to a halt when the league folded, he didn’t give up on soccer. He played and coached as he continued his education and his passion for soccer led him to work on a dissertation titled “Lace up the Boots, Full Tilt Ahead: Recreation, Immigration, and Labor on Chicago’s Soccer Fields, 1890-1939.”

After being at Northern for two years, Logan finally found the time to commit to a full season with the team, which competes in the Great Lakes Division of the Midwest Alliance Soccer Conference. He said he feels bringing organization to the team will take NMU club soccer to the next level.

“He’s an authority figure and he demands respect. I mean, he’s got a whistle,” junior midfielder Tyler Moseley said of Logan. “It has made a world of difference with him as coach.”

Before Logan, the team was student operated and the players made the decisions on how practices and game substitutions went. Moseley is not alone on the team in thinking that the addition of a coach has helped them to make a move in the right direction.

“He focused us,” said senior midfield Ben Wielechowski. “We have always had great camaraderie.”

The difference now is that Logan runs the substitutions, sets the lineups and gives structure to the practices. This allows the team to focus on specifics of its game.

“It’s a win-win situation for them,” said Logan. “It’s not as much coaching, as organization, that could take this program to the next level and maybe win the Great Lakes [Division].”

Northern’s record this season is 2-3, but the club feels they have been in every game because it has lost each contest by just one goal, Logan said.

“It is just a matter of mental discipline, to continue practice, continue training and continue to come together as a team,” Logan said.

Playing at home on Saturday, against the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the ‘Cats lost 2-1. The only NMU goal came from Chad Hockers. The next game for the team is Saturday, Sept. 29 in Milwaukee against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. UW-Milwaukee won the Great Lakes Conference last season. In their meeting during the last week of last season, the ‘Cats beat UW-Milwaukee.

Despite the team’s current record, the players feel that simply having a coach makes them a better team than last year.

“I feel we have our best team this year,” Wielechowski said. “I feel [Logan] thinks the same way.”

Logan knows his players are talented and predicted in the beginning of the season that his team would not be shut out. At this point in the season, Logan has been proven correct and the Wildcats have scored at least one goal in each game.

He also feels that in order for the team to improve, it has to start thinking as a team instead of as a group of 11 individual players.

“One of the quotes I say is ‘the great players always make the players around them look good,”‘ Logan said. “The more this team can play to each others’ levels and skills, the better we are going to become a team.”