FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – From the moment he retired back in 2009, new Revolution coach Jay Heaps waited for this day.
Heaps spent the past two years working in finance and keeping his toes in the Revolution waters as a broadcaster, but the 35-year-old always envisioned a point when he could throw himself back into the league on a full-time basis.
When the Revs offered him the chance to return to the club as its sixth coach, he accepted without any hesitation.
“I am more than thrilled at just the opportunity to get back and have an influence on this organization,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “To me, that's goosebumps and that's what wakes me up at night.”
Heaps' passion to help restore the Revolution to their former glory served as one of the primary factor in his appointment.
Revolution president Brian Bilello and general manager Michael Burns interviewed 10 to 12 candidates for the position and eventually whittled the list down to two or three people on a shortlist, according to Burns. Most of the potential options possessed far more experience, but Heaps landed the job because Bilello and Burns believe he has the potential to use his drive, his energy, his intellect and his knowledge of MLS to handle the task ahead of him.
“It became clear to us that he had what it takes to be a great coach,” Bilello said. “That was one of the key decision factors for us to bring Jay on board.”
All of those factors ultimately outweighed the potential negatives of hiring a new boss without any coaching experience at the professional level. Heaps said he understands the Revs have taken a significant gamble by selecting him as their new coach, but he contends that he possesses all of the tools required to make it pay off.
“I think with risk comes reward,” Heaps said. “What I may lack in MLS experience, some of the intangibles I have completely make up for that. I don't think it's a risk because I know what I'm going to bring to the table. If I'm sitting where you are, I can say it's a risk. But I know what I'm going to bring every day, I know what kind of people I'm going to get around me to help succeed. That, to me, is so important.”
Bilello, Burns and Heaps have already started to devise and implement the changes required to improve the Revs heading into next season. All three men said that the club expects to invest significant resources to create the necessary analytical and scouting infrastructure required to take the club forward.
Those alterations – allied with increased attention to strength and conditioning facilities and video capabilities, a revised roster and a shift in the club's culture – will hopefully spark the Revs' rebuilding process and spur significant improvement in 2012, according to Burns.
“I'm not going to sit here and promise you,” Burns said. “I can't guarantee X number of wins. But we want to turn this around as quickly as possible. Neither Jay nor myself are looking at 2012 [as a rebuilding year]. Are we going to rebuild? Sure, but that isn't an excuse to lose. We have to rebuild the team, but we want to win next year. We want players in the locker room who want to win next year. I want to win next year. Jay wants to win next year. And that's where it starts.”