Columbia College soccer coach John Klein finds success with 2nd team

Thursday, September 5, 2013 | 10:58 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Columbia College soccer coach John Klein stands on the sideline of the field, hands clasped behind his back, watching his players run drills. 

His eyes do not follow the movement of the ball but rather the formations of his players and how they react to one another. He doesn't say much but allows his players to coach each other through their drills.

This calm demeanor has not always been a part of Klein's coaching strategy, but it is a change that he attributes to the addition of the Columbia College women's soccer team.

"I'm realizing there's a way to show intensity, but also I try to be more composed and more calm on the bench," Klein said. "I still think I'm as competitive as I've ever been, but I'm trying to do it with a little more composure. And I think the ladies team has helped with that." 

Klein is starting his 14th season as coach of the men's team and is beginning his second with the women.

The men's and women's seasons are going on concurrently, and Klein acknowledges that coaching two teams at the same time can be time consuming, but it is familiar to him.

"I would go from a college field to a youth field for the past 12 years," Klein said. "My kids have been growing up, and I've been coaching their teams. So, I'd go from one field to the next, and now, it's actually easier. I just stay at Columbia College and coach for four straight hours.

"It's what I like to do, so it works out great."

The men's and women's games are played back-to-back with the women usually playing first. The teams also travel together to away games.

The women's team features mostly players from the United States, with one player from Brazil and another from England. The men's team, on the other hand, features many international students. This season's team has 12 players from outside the United States, representing eight countries.

Klein credits a "great international support system" that exists at Columbia College for making the non-Americans comfortable in Missouri along with the bonds formed within the team.

"The game we play, soccer, is just an international language," Klein said. "It's kind of our little fraternity, the soccer field, and the guys just take care of each other."

The men's team is currently ranked 12th in the nation in the NAIA Coaches' Poll.

The Cougar women's team is coming off an inaugural season where the team went 10-10 and lost in the AMC Championship game. 

"We really set our minds to establishing a team that could compete immediately," Klein said of the women's program. "And I think we did a good job of identifying a mix of junior college players and  players coming right out of high school. Those junior college players allowed us to be immediately competitive."

The Cougar men and women both return to action at Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday to face Dordt College.

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