After spending six successful seasons as an associate head coach at Michigan State University, Kylie Stannard is taking over as the Yale men’s soccer head coach. He will be the program’s first new head coach in 20 seasons, replacing the retiring Brian Tompkins. The News spoke with Stannard about his transition into the Ivy League, the difficult recovery from a poor 2014 Bulldog season — which ended in a 1–13–3 record for the Bulldogs — and the changes he intends to bring to the Yale soccer program.
Q: Coming from a successful Big 10 program, what made you decide to transition to Yale?
A: Yale speaks for itself; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to come to a place like this. Yale has not just a national brand name, but also a worldwide one … I think being at Yale our students are extremely motivated and have a high inner drive to be successful. That’s what excites me about this job and this position. These men are extremely bright and driven, and I look forward to being a part of their growth and development on and off the field and hopefully competing for championships.
Q: Given your experience with the NCAA tournament and the winning culture at MSU, what do you think you can bring to the table in terms of a new look for Yale soccer?
A: I think Yale soccer just needs a new voice and a new energy to re-energize things. Obviously Coach Tompkins was there for a great time and was a successful coach with Yale soccer, but I think my coming in here will provide a new voice and different mentality that will hopefully put us in a position to compete for championships. Coach Tompkins has been an incredible resource for me and we will continue to communicate on a regular basis as well.
Q: At MSU you helped put together four top-40 recruiting classes and the No. 8 class in 2012. What are your goals and approaches to recruiting for Yale?
A: My goal is to have a top-10 recruiting class and to have top-40 recruiting classes every year. I really hope to push for consistent top-20 or top-25 recruiting classes.
Q: What do you think the first step you’ll take recruiting-wise will be?
A: I’m still evaluating what we currently have with our group here at Yale, but I really think I’ll be looking for guys that know how to win and lay it on the line every single game and give their all for their team. From a personnel standpoint, I’m a more defensive-minded coach, but I think that my objective will be to work from the back forward through the spine of the team. We have to find another goalkeeper right now and I think we’ll just go from the defense forward.
Q: What do you think the biggest transition for you coming to the Ivy League will be in terms of coaching or recruiting?
A: I think that in the Ivy League recruiting is more challenging because your pool of players is smaller, yet easier because you can hone in on those few players who have the criteria for an Ivy League school. The other challenge is probably just getting to know the teams, coaches and the strengths and weaknesses of each team. That’s something you can get a hold of quickly though.
Q: What is your overall goal for the first season? Do you quantify the goal as a certain number of wins?
A: I met with the guys on the team and I expect an increase in the standards for fitness, work rate and physical and mental preparation for games. The guys know they’re in for a lot of hard work this offseason, but these are the times when you have to sacrifice. I want to be the hardest working team in the Ivy League, and I think we have a lot better players than last year’s record shows. Obviously I’d like to compete for an Ivy League Championship. This is not a rebuilding year by mentality; the focus will be on the Ivy League. Our preparation in non-conference games will be about getting prepared for the Ivy League.
Q: What would you like the “Stannard Era” of Yale soccer to look like?
A: I ultimately want this team to be feared in the Ivy League and nationally respected and not viewed as an “easy” win like it might have been viewed in recent years. I want us to get to the point where nobody likes to play against [us] because we are organized, tough, hardworking and relentless for 90 minutes.