The Yale men’s soccer team will begin its quest for an Ivy League title in early September, and when it does, it will have extra motivation: 2014 will be the last season not just for the seniors, but for head coach Brian Tompkins as well.
Tompkins, the second winningest coach in Yale men’s soccer history, announced earlier this week that he will be stepping down from his position at the end of this season and joining the Yale athletics administrative office. No information has been released about the search for a new coach.
“There is never an easy time to step down as a head coach because of the cyclical nature of the job,” Tompkins said in an email to the News. “My intention has always been to leave the program better off than [it was] when I started, and with the talented squad we currently have and the committed recruits for next year, I believe that is the case.”
Tompkins enters his 19th season as head coach just six wins behind Steve Griggs, who amassed a 143–110–23 record in the 18 seasons just prior to Tompkins’ tenure. Tompkins has boasted a 137–135–36 record since taking over the reins in 1996.
He won a share of an Ivy League championship with the Bulldogs in 2005, and his 1999 squad finished ranked 18th in the nation with a school-record 13 wins. Eight players whom Tompkins has coached at Yale have played professionally after graduating.
When asked about his accomplishments, however, Tompkins highlighted achievements he has made on a personal level.
“[I’m most proud of] playing a small part in influencing the evolution of our players from boys to men,” Tompkins said.
Yale goalkeeper Blake Brown ’15 said that the lessons he will take away from Tompkins’ leadership extend beyond the field.
“Coach [Tompkins] teaches us the importance of tradition and holding ourselves to a high standard,” Brown said in an email to the News. “I have learned to look at the bigger picture of how blessed I am to be where I am today. … Coach Tompkins imparted a sense of respect for the program and ourselves which pushes us to make excellence a habit, on and off the field.”
Tompkins said he hopes to leave his legacy in how both the players and his assistant coaches approach the game mentally.
“Hard work, humility, expressing gratitude and treating people the right way are the foundations for success on and off the soccer field,” Tompkins said of the mentality that he wanted the team to keep in mind after his departure.
Yale went 4–11–2 in 2013, dropping a close game to Princeton 3–2 in its final match. Tompkins said that the team is in a strong position to succeed this year, and then to continue that momentum without him.
Brown added that the team will be especially motivated this year to give Tompkins a successful final season.
“Coach Tompkins gave me and my teammates the opportunity that is Yale soccer,” Brown said. “Knowing that it is his last season definitely gives the team a little more motivation to succeed and bring the Ivy League title back to New Haven.”
Before coaching at Yale, Tompkins spent seven years building up the men’s soccer program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He finished with a record of 90–41–11, and the Panthers ranked in the top 25 in four of his last six seasons with the team.
The Elis will open their season at home Sept. 5 against Sacred Heart, and their Ivy season will begin at Harvard Oct. 4.