Steven Cox, the new head coach for the men’s soccer team, comes to Union after six seasons as an assistant coach at North Carolina State University. He graduated in 2005 from Houghton College, where he played soccer, and he is originally from Toronto. He and his wife, Krista, have 3 children.
Why do you love soccer?
I grew up playing soccer. I started playing when I was six years old, and just fell in love with the competition and how important team is. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home; I got saved when I was in college, and I loved how God could use soccer as a platform to have an impact on people’s lives. When you look at the game, it’s the most popular game in the world, and so it just draws people together and it’s neat to be able to go to different countries and different parts of the world and have a connection with people over the sport.
What made you want to come to Union from North Carolina?
I met a couple players that played at Union when I was in college, so that was kind of my first introduction to the university. I had the opportunity to come up and interview a couple weeks back, and I just feel in love with the community and the people here. It seemed like a really, really special place. From a soccer standpoint, when you look at the facilities and the resources that the university has, you can build a special program here. From a culture standpoint, I had the opportunity to spend a day with Tommy (Sadler, Athletic Director) and Dr. Dub Oliver, and they’re awesome. I think any time you have support from a president and an athletic director, it’s a great situation to be in.
Coming in as someone with a fresh perspective on the team, what do you think are some of the Bulldogs’ strengths and weaknesses?
We’ve only had two training sessions, but I think the guys are hungry to be successful on the field and off the field. I think they want to pursue excellence in all aspects of their lives, I think they want to be great. I think their weakness is they don’t know how to get there right now. There’s a little bit of misdirection, or just not knowing what a championship team and an excellent program looks like. So that would be a weakness. It’s been a good week. It’s been a hard week…but they’re hungry. So it’s going to be fun.
So what’s your vision for this program?
Our first meeting, I told the guys that in my dream for the program, we’re the best place to play college soccer in the country. That’s the vision. So that’s what we’re chasing.
How do you build a program like that?
By making sure that the right guys are coming into the program. You need to make sure you have recruits that want to be excellent on the field, in the classroom, and spiritually. By making sure that the culture’s right, where the guys care about each other and want to make each other better and are bought into chasing after that, because it’s hard.
What’s your hope for this specific season coming up?
I’ve talked to the guys about the expectation that we play in the conference tournament this year. The men’s program has never done that at the NCAA level. I want to be better than we were last year, and I think if we focus on getting better every single day, chasing after being excellent, honoring the Lord in everything that we do, the byproduct will be that we are better than the previous year.
You’ve had a successful career both as a player and a coach before coming here. What role do you prefer more?
They’re both different. I tell the guys, I’d do anything to go back and play one more semester of college soccer, just because it’s a special time in your life. Saying that, I like the opportunity to impact guy’s lives and invest in their lives, and I get to do that every year. So I enjoy both, but you only get to play four years of college soccer. Hopefully, Lord willing, I’ll get to coach for another 20 or 30 years of my life.
How can we be praying for you and your family as you make this transition?
My wife and kids won’t be down here until about May, so we’re looking at houses, schools, churches and all those pieces. I hate being away from my family, so it’s a lot of flights back and forth on the weekend when you have time, so that’s probably one of the most difficult things.