By Nick Pantages
The Pride dipped back into their endless pool of alumni in the coaching field this August when they hired Brendon Boates to be an assistant coach for the women’s soccer team this fall.
A class of 2001 graduate, Boates also played on the Springfield College men’s soccer team for two years before his transition to the sidelines as a coach. Like so many other coaches who return, the years Boates spent here on Alden Street played a pivotal role in his decision to return back to the school he once attended.
“It was the best four years of my life for sure,” Boates said. “I met lifelong friends. Multiple people that were in my wedding party were friends I met here. I always tell people the best decision I ever made was coming here, so it’s easy to come back.”
In the years between graduating and returning in August, Boates coached a variety of levels of both men’s and women’s soccer. This season will be his 22nd in coaching.
Boates’ collegiate experience consists of the 2008 season with the Bridgewater State men’s soccer team, as well as the 2021 and 2022 seasons with the Northeastern women’s soccer team.
In the 12 years in between his collegiate coaching stints, Boates coached at the youth and high school level. In his five-year tenure at East Bridgewater (Mass.) High School as the women’s soccer coach, he won an MIAA state title in 2016.
“I’ve coached seven-year-olds, 17-year-olds, 22-year-olds and everything in between,” Boates said. “You can learn something from every team you coach.”
After his stint at Northeastern, Boates was undecided about what to do in coaching, having turned down an offer that did not work with his schedule. However, when he heard of the opening for the Springfield position, he pounced on the opportunity.
“It sort of came out of the blue when the posting went up, and I had no idea that it was going to become available,” Boates said.
After a conversion with head athletic trainer Barclay Dugger, who Boates knew from his coaching experience, it became clear that a return to his alma mater would be a fantastic idea.
“[The conversation] sort of spurred me to do it,” Boates said. “It’s a little bit of a commute, but it’s definitely worth it, I can already tell I made the right decision.”
Boates, who only visited campus sporadically after his graduation 22 years ago, has had the time to do some reflection on the place he once called home.
“It’s surreal to be back. It’s cool, but that first day was definitely a little weird, driving around and saying ‘Oh I used to live here,’” Boates said.
But Boates has a little more to focus on then just reminiscing about his time here as a student.
The Pride had success under head coach Kristin Cannon in her first year in the role, as they finished with an 8-8-1 record. In 2023, they hope to surpass that record in Boates’ first year on the staff.
Boates constantly preaches the importance of energy, something he makes sure he always brings to practice to inspire his players.
“I just try to bring my own energy so that way the players know that we are there to get better and to improve,” Boates said. “I think if the coach is energetic and out there working hard, the players understand they have to work hard as well, and I think it’s paid off so far.”
That philosophy of hard work seems to be sinking in, as the Pride are on the right track to a successful season. Springfield is unbeaten in its first four games, with two wins and two draws – and the Pride will look to continue their success as NEWMAC play approaches.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield Athletics