By Allison Nekola & Ryan Fitzgerald – Co-Editor-in-Chief & Sports Editor
Former center midfielder for the men’s soccer team and 2014 Lasell graduate, Jared Lewis, has brought his talent and knowledge back to Taylor Field for the Lasers.
Two years ago, Lewis was appointed assistant coach of the men’s soccer team. Lewis played on the team for four years at Lasell, including a senior season with a 17-4-2 record. The former student is looking forward to bringing that same success to the team as a coach, a position that he says came to him in a dream.
“You’re not going to believe me, but the night after my summer internship was over, I had a dream about the head coach position that had just been filled and immediately after waking up I called Caroll [a former teammate, Nick Carroll graduated 2015] and asked if he heard of any opening spots for assistant coach,” said Lewis. “He gave me Burke’s [the current head coach] contact information and that’s where it all began.”
He kept his new job a secret, looking to surprise his teammates that he had only said good-bye to a couple of months prior. “Connor [Fitzgerald] tweeted at me earlier that week saying, ‘Man JLew I wish I was going to see you at preseason, I miss you’ then tryouts come, I walk up and everyone had the same reaction of ‘No way, this is unreal’,” said Lewis. “So, that was the crazy moment I wanted after keeping this to myself.” It was a relief for the members to have a coach they could relate to, after a new head coach, Burke Hazard, started in the fall of 2014. Lewis’s connection and bond with his former teammates created a bridge between player and coach.
Along with being an assistant coach at Lasell, Lewis also works as a coach at the Vallejo Youth Soccer League in Vallejo, CA.
It’s been an interesting challenge transitioning from player to coach for Lewis, and having to coach and mentor student athletes he used to take the pitch with.
“Everything is different,” said Lewis. “Psychologically I’m preparing myself differently. Instead of going to train and getting ready for the game, I need to train them, I need to pass on what’s been working for me and what made me a success to them.” The most challenging part for Lewis is “not focusing on me and not getting lost in the game during training sessions but staying focused on the players.”
Lewis uses his own experiences to change the attitudes of some players, hoping to prevent them from making any of his past mistakes. “There was a time during my senior year when I felt I wasn’t getting the playing time I deserved,” he said. “This affected my attitude in a poor way. I started slacking off at practice and having a bad attitude. If I had approached the situation in a more positive way and tried to prove to my coach that I should be on the field more, I could’ve had a more successful senior year.”
At first it was hard for him to make the transition considering he was still close friends with some of the players. Lewis felt apprehensive if the players would take him seriously and listen to what he has to say.
“It was hard to draw that line between player and coach,” Lewis said. “Players who knew me would come up to me talking about playing time but I had to remember I’m a coach and I need to delegate to them.”
However, having players who knew him on the team gave him automatic respect as a coach, something most new coaches don’t earn so easily. The team stayed open-minded, remembering the success the team had when Jared was a key-player. The chemistry of the team in the past was something this new team intended to keep.
New players coming on the squad took note how respected Lewis was, which made it easier to coach them. “They know I was on a nationally-ranked team and that they have something to learn from me,” Lewis said. “Also, the upperclassmen showing me respect trickled down to the newcomers.” Lewis’s old team members were able to reinforce what he was saying off the field.
Right now the men’s team has a 2-9 record, but Lewis believes they’re better than that.
“It’s deceiving,” Lewis said. “We play really close in our games and are in it in the first half, but seem to lose focus and drop off in the second. We just need to stay focused and we can’t be too laid back.”
Lewis is able to work as a middleman between players and head coach Hazard, who is in his second year in the position. Players feel comfortable coming to Lewis to talk about issues or ideas, and the assistant coach can relay that to Hazard.
Lewis feels lucky to have received the opportunity to be an assistant coach right out of school. As a Sports Management graduate, he plans on continuing his career as a coach. “This is such an amazing opportunity for me and I plan on taking what I learn here and becoming the head coach of a college or high school soccer team in the future,” said Lewis.