Less than two weeks after claiming the University of Akron’s first-ever national team championship, soccer coach Caleb Porter agreed to a contract that would see him spend the next nine years in Ohio.
Having completed the first year of a five-year contract extension he signed back in December 2009, after turning down the coaching position at D.C. United, Akron announced Porter agreed to another six-year extension that would run out in 2020.
The Akron athletic department initiated the talks, offering to commit to Porter for several more years.
“Mostly, it was them coming to me, and I think they looked at it as an opportune time to make sure that I continued to be a presence in Akron,” Porter explained. “They wanted to show their support for the program on a long term basis.”
Since arriving on the scene in Akron prior to the 2006 season, Porter has claimed national recognition as both a tactician and a recruiter.
[inline_node:324815]The national championship obtained this year was a culmination of four years of hard work. By emphasizing a possession-oriented playing style and coaxing some of the best players in the nation to ply their trade for at least a couple years in Akron, the Zips had one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses this season.
Electing to stay for that long is a combination of factors. Porter insisted that a college coach can only be as good as his support system, and it’s something that he’s found with his current setup.
“I’m only able to do what I’ve done because of the commitment and support of the administration and our athletic department,” he said.
By enticing Porter with such a long contract, the Zips all but ensure that their men’s soccer program will remain among the nation’s elite – or at least very close to that. It was one of the goals that Porter put forward when interviewing for the position back in 2005.
“My vision was to build the program in a way where we’re not just every once in a while making a run,” he said, “but that each and every year we’re in the conversation and hopefully in the NCAA Tournament as a realistic contender to win the national championship.”
[inline_node:323158]Making two straight appearances in the College Cup Final is certainly living up to those lofty expectations. Signing a new contract gives Porter the stability he needs to keep that run of success going.
“A coach is only as good as his resources and commitment from the administration,” said Porter. “This ensures that our program will continue to be at the level where we’re at over the long haul.”
A talented and successful team like Akron certainly attracts attention from Major League Soccer. The Zips have a number of underclassmen who could end up in the professional ranks next season, and that will make the long-term vision a bit more of a challenge.
However, Porter is the first to admit that, and he will speak with some of those prospects over the coming weeks. Having to find replacements for the early departures will keep him busy as he tries to fill gaps and prepare his team for next year.
“There is no offseason if you’re doing it right. There are NCAA rules with regards to how much coaching you can do with your team, but it’s really not much,” he said.
“I think it’s a bit of a misconception that as college coaches we just coach for three-and-a-half months, and we just sit around for the other eight-and-a-half months, and that’s not the case.”
Whatever the result, Porter has the option and luxury of spending the next 9 years as the University of Akron’s head coach, and he will work to maintain the level of excellence he has set in the previous seasons.
If the last two years are any indication, the Zips will be a force as long as Porter remains in charge.
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