By: Jamie Tritschler, Athletic Communications Intern
As Head Coach Michelle Jacquette enters her first season at Penn State Brandywine, she looks to continue the women's soccer team's success as she incorporates her experience from coaching and playing at the collegiate level.
JT: How long have you been coaching soccer? Where else have you coached prior to Penn State Brandywine?
MJ: I've been coaching soccer for over 15 years. I started coaching college right out of college and haven't looked back since. I love soccer and I have been extremely lucky to get the opportunity to do what I love. I've coached at The College of Southern Maryland, Gwynedd Mercy University, Neumann University and Bryn Mawr College.
JT: Were you a former athlete? Talk about that experience, where you played, what position, etc.
MJ: I've played soccer all my life. I'm going to date myself, but when I played, even into high school, there were not girls teams so I played with the boys. I think that has helped me be a better coach because I was able to experience a lot of different coaching styles both on the male and female side of things. For college, I went away across the country to Pepperdine University and really just didn't like it. I came back home to Maryland and ended up playing at The College of Southern Maryland.
JT: Who were your mentors, both as a player and as a coach?
MJ: As a player I always looked up to the older players on my teams. I was very fortunate to have teammates that were willing to share the knowledge they had learned on the field in order to make their team the best it could possibly be. As a coach, I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of different head coaches and I was able to take something from each of them and incorporate it into my coaching. For example, one coach I coached with was a speechwriter and he gave the most incredible, uplifting, inspiring pre-game and post-game team talks. Another coach was more of a track coach and I learned a lot of speed training and running techniques from him. Everyone I've had the chance to coach with has taught me something; it's my job to see it and use their knowledge to make me a better coach.
JT: What attracted you to the position at Penn State Brandywine?
MJ: I was informed of the opening at Penn State Brandywine by the current men's coach [Jesse Zafiratos]. We had coached with and against each other at times in our coaching careers. He spoke very highly of the school and the soccer programs so it peaked my interest. After getting the chance to speak with the Athletic Director [Sarah Kurpel] and some of the athletic department staff, I knew he was right. Everyone was wonderful and it seemed like a good fit for me and the right step to take in my coaching career.
JT: Since this is your first season, what are your expectations coming in?
MJ: I try not to have any expectations going into a season with a new team. The only thing I've expressed that I expect is for the players to put in 100 percent effort every time they step on the field and go into the classroom.
JT: Have you had any interaction with the team yet? If so, in what capacity?
MJ: We had a brief team meeting but I think everyone, coaches and players, are looking forward to getting on the field for preseason so we can all really get to know each other.
JT: How has the team been preparing in the off season?
MJ: Some of the players have been playing in a summer league and all of the players have been preparing for the season with a summer workout program of speed, agility, ball control and body weight training.
JT: What are you looking to improve on this year?
MJ: I am not sure exactly what this team needs to improve upon since I haven't seen them on the field yet, but the one thing I like to improve on with all of the teams I've worked with starts with everyone feeling like they are a contributing member of the team. I want a group of players that will look out for each other on and off the field. I am not expecting everyone to be best friends, but I do anticipate everyone will respect and learn from each other.
JT: Have you set any goals or expectations for this season? If so, what and how do you plan to achieve them?
MJ: There was one blemish on an otherwise perfect regular-season record from last year and because of that, a goal I have is to beat Keystone.
JT: What is the most difficult aspect of a coach's first season at a new university? How do you plan to overcome those challenges?
MJ: I think the most difficult thing coming into a team as a new coach is gaining an understanding of what the team already feels comfortable with and what they believe, collectively, they need to improve upon. Once a mutual trust is formed, all of the team goals and players' individual goals will be much easier to attain.