Camp Chronicles: RICH MANNING, Head Coach

Have any of your previous seasons prepared you in any way for all the challenges that have come with this year?

"I actually believe that having so much experience has been more of a challenge. I’ve had to look at this unique situation with fresh eyes, for sure. The most important thing that I’ve learned over the last five months is that I need to reach out and listen to our team as much as possible. The other important lesson is that I need to be flexible and patient. We’ve always said that the most important play in soccer is the “Next Play”. It has never been more true."

What has been the most challenging thing for you?

"Everything! Really the hardest part has been not having direct contact with our players. With the pandemic, our players at first were all over the world spending time with family. The NCAA and PAC-12 rules prevented coaches from working with players until just the last couple of weeks. I’ve really had to get out of my comfort zone to find new ways to communicate and make connections."

On the other side of that, what has been the best thing that’s happened from the season being postponed?

"The team feels safe. We sense that Utah Athletics and the PAC-12 have our best interests in mind. It has taken the pressure off of trying to play and travel in uncertain circumstances. It was so great that the NCAA has given the players a redshirt year. They don’t feel the stress of not having a full year count as one of their precious four seasons."

How have your players taken the news and the postponement of the season?

"The players were definitely disappointed when the fall postponement was announced. They’ve remained positive about the possibility of a spring season are working hard to be ready for that opportunity."

How can this time spent together even without competition benefit your team?

"One of the unique aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it really forces us to rely on each other. We have to make good choices away from the field in order to keep each other safe. Our commitment to the group will have to be at a very high standard. This kind of teamwork can really help form our team and will have a positive effect in our soccer too."

If there was a silver lining to this, what would you say it would be?

"The other great positive is that our players and staff have grown to know each other so much better. We’ve been able to spend time together and discover more of who we are off the field."