Waibel interview with Real Salt Lake
SEATTLE -- Washington men's soccer season is right around the corner. The Dawgs are coming off the greatest season in program history and will have growing expectations and excitement revolving around the 2014 season.
One change to the Husky program is assistant coach Craig Waibel has moved on to Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. Waibel was named the NSCAA Far West Regional Assistant Coach of the Year last season for the Dawgs. Although Waibel is gone from campus, he remains one of the greatest supporters of Husky soccer as an alum and one of the top professionals to ever play in the purple and gold.
Waibel won four MLS Cups during his professional career, one with the LA Galaxy, one with the San Jose Earthquakes and two with the Houston Dynamo. He now brings that experience to Real Salt Lake as a coach. The 1999 Washington graduate took a few moments to answer some questions from GoHuskies.com.
GoHuskies.com: Even though you jumped back to MLS, describe your passion for the Washington soccer program, now having been both a player and coach?
Waibel: "My passion for the Washington Soccer Program has never waivered since I committed to play there way back in February of 1994. I have always enjoyed the process of college soccer with regards to the way it challenges young men to grow as students, people, and athletes....as it did for me. I am one of a fortunate few people that have been on the playing and coaching side for Washington Soccer and I will forever be a husky in my heart."
GoHuskies.com: What was the deciding factor(s) to join Real Salt Lake as an assistant coach?
Waibel: "Most people look at the move and think it was an easy decision to chase my career into the professional ranks. However, to leave the Washington program at a time where Coach Clark is continuing to improve the quality of play and threatening a national championship was a bit more difficult than most would imagine. My wife and I are from the Northwest, both of us are UW Alums, and we really enjoyed being back around our family and friends. When this opportunity came up I had a great conversation with Jamie and we both felt that the timing was right for me to move on and to accept the next challenge of my coaching career. I have a formidable amount of responsibility and a wonderful environment at Real Salt Lake to keep growing as a coach....in the end I couldn't have accepted the position if Jeff Cassar and Real Salt Lake weren't willing to allow me to keep growing."
GoHuskies.com: What are the main differences of coaching at the professional level compared to college?
Waibel: "Having only been here for a couple months I have to preface this by saying that I am years away from truly being able to answer this question appropriately. Believe it or not though, I think there are far more similarities than differences. The biggest difference at the professional level that I have noticed in my short stint is that I have to get my coaching points across in a much sharper and succinct way than when I was working with the men at Washington. The speed of play is a bit quicker so recognizing the coaching moments and communicating the information in a sharp and timely manner has been the biggest adjustment I have been trying to develop over the past few months."
GoHuskies.com: Washington has had several players drafted recently and has several pro prospects on the current team. How does playing at UW help prepare players for the next level?
Waibel: "Playing any sport at the University of Washington is much more than just practicing and individually improving over the course of four years. The reason the soccer program has continually produced professional athletes is a combination of the coaching, the culture of the team, and most importantly the culture and success of the athletic department as a whole. Everyday the team enters the weight room, the Dempsey Indoor Facility, and the Crew House they are interacting with the best amateur athletes that the NCAA has to offer. Everywhere the guys go they are surrounded by excellence. In my opinion, that is a huge piece of what it takes to become a professional, and that is what the U of W offers to all it's athletes."
GoHuskies.com: What type of coach is Jamie Clark?
Waibel: "Coach Clark is a winner. He is steadfastly honest with his players and his staff members. He is willing to tirelessly study the game and his opponents in a continuing effort to evolve and gain more knowledge. He is very organized and runs sharp and meaningful practices. He is willing to adjust his tactics and formations to fit his players strengths. He patiently goes about building relationships and developing his players to have the skillsets to execute on the field and the courage to succeed beyond their natural abilities."
GoHuskies.com: Having played for several coaches in MLS, is there someone who was your greatest influence to get into coaching?
Waibel: "I was extremely fortunate to play my entire MLS career for great coaches. Sigi Schmid, Frank Yallop, and Dominic Kinnear have all won multiple championships in the MLS. They all helped shape my interest in coaching and have clearly influenced my knowledge of the game and what I aspire to be as a coach. Sigi's intensity, Frank's charisma and ability to connect with his players, and Dominic's unwavering competitiveness and dedication to his system and style of play are all the things that influenced my decision to chase the dream of becoming a mature and successful coach."