By Daniel Priest
SPRINGFIELD, MA – Springfield College athletics enjoyed a historical, successful 2017-2018 season across many different sports on campus. Conference titles, final fours and an abundance of victory over the course of the year.
Among those was the men’s soccer team. Under the tutelage of former Head Coach Steffen Siebert, the team finished 15-1-3 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Now, the Pride welcomes a new coach onto Alden Street; Tommy Crabill.
Crabill brings a bevy of experience and accomplishments as enters in as head coach of Springfield. He was a four year member of the men’s soccer team at Ohio Wesleyan University, where he graduated with a degree in physical education and sports management.
In his time as a player, Ohio Wesleyan won four NCAC Regular Season Championships, 3 NCAC Tournament Championships and had 4 appearances in the NCAA Tournament including a trip to the final four in 2006.
At Springfield, Crabill will be a first time head coach, but he’s got plenty of experience elsewhere. He spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Williams College. Prior to that he has been an assistant at St. Lawrence University, Earlham College (Indiana), Baldwin Wallace University (Ohio) and Alma College (Michigan).
Crabill, who has a national diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), has seen success at nearly every stop in his coaching career. At St. Lawrence in 2013 and 2014, the team won their league and conference tournament and made the NCAA tournament both years. They reached the sweet sixteen in 2013.
In 2011 while working as a volunteer assistant coach at Baldwin Wallace, Crabill was a part of the staff who helped lead the Yellow Jackets mens team to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Now, he arrives to Alden Street as the headman of a men’s soccer program that has gone 49-7-6 over the last three years and has qualified for consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m really fortunate and lucky to have this opportunity. I know it’s a storied program with many great coaches having worked here, not just in men’s soccer but across the athletic department,” said Crabill.
“It’s something that’s exciting for me on many levels. Some of my closest mentors from this area are keenly aware of Springfield and how strong the athletic department and soccer program here are.”
Crabill is inheriting a successful program, and the opportunity to continue building excited him. “We have some very, very high standards and a high bar to hit, which is what you want,” he said.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity and I think we have a really good starting point left off by Coach Siebert and all of his hardwork and his staff, so I’m excited and thrilled to attack this fall with this group of guys.”
The Pride graduated 9 seniors in the spring. While there has been other movement with the players, there is still plenty of talent to be had and guys are ready to contribute up and down the roster.
“They’ve been through a lot. From the process they’ve grown and matured, from working with coach in the spring and going through the hiring process for myself,” Crabill said of his team.
“Our guys have been very business like in attacking for this fall. Our senior class has been almost like a group of assistant coaches, their communication’s been fantastic, their maturity, they’re very clear in what they want to achieve together.”
Crabill’s experience should help this team in the long run. “I’ve been very lucky to have worked for head coaches that have been willing to give me head coaching experience in the assistant role,” he said.
Having already dealt with recruiting strategies and practice planning through his years of experience, Crabill now has the opportunity to build his own program.
“Every coach I’ve worked for had 20 years or more experience of exceptional work,” he said.
“These are coaches that have built their own programs with their bare hands and have put together really impressive accomplishments and to work up close with guys that are doing things the right way is really, really fortunate. To have those experiences, they provide a great blueprint for what I want to do here.”
The season is fast approaching and while winning has been the norm for the team the past few seasons, Crabill is focused on the present.
“There’s two ways to get in, you win your conference tournament, or you build a resume that the regional committee is appreciative of and wants to grant you that at large bid, so I have every bit of confidence that our players mentally are tough enough to get through the season and to do that it’s a grind, you got to go game by game.”
Right now though, Crabill is more focused on taking things day by day and building a strong base to get his crew to where they want to be later this season.
“I don’t think past the goals that I’m attacking right now that I’m purely focused on achieving with this group of guys this fall. We want to be the best team that we can possibly be and we hope that on the other side of that we get a top ranking in the NEWMAC, a top ranking in the region, a top ranking Nationally,” he said.
It remains to be seen what will happen once the season gets underway, but one thing that’s for sure is that Crabill is not taking his new opportunity for granted. “Whatever comes of that, comes of that,” he said.
“This is a really special place, it’s a very special athletic department. I’m blessed to have this opportunity and I have to just work very, very hard towards these goals.”
*Photos and information on background/college courtesy of Springfield College Athletics Department