The Collegian
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Men's soccer has first new head coach in 15 years

On Monday Feb. 2, Clint Peay, a former Olympian, Major League Soccer standout and four-time national champion, became the sixth University of Richmond men's soccer coach. Peay replaces Jeff Gettler, who held the position for the last 14 seasons.

With the recent birth of his child on Jan. 23 and the transition to a new city, Peay said there was a lot he needed to get done.

"Life will be upside down for a bit," Peay said.

Peay, who was an assistant coach at George Mason University, Davidson College and Georgetown University, said his aim this spring would be "to instill confidence in each player, preparing them for each game."

Winning, he said, was a mindset and every player would become a building block in renewing the team's spirit.

"Winning is contagious," he said.

Peay was hired by a committee including Assistant Athletic Director LaRee Pearl Sugg, Athletic Director Jim Miller, Deputy Athletic Director David Walsh and women's soccer coach Peter Albright.

Albright said Gettler's decision to leave was sudden. After 14 seasons with the Spiders, Albright surmised Gettler wanted to "start a new chapter in his life."

The entire committee expressed enthusiasm about the man stepping they chose to fill Gettler's shoes.

Sugg said the men's soccer team was very involved in the interviewing process. Many team members, including sophomore Justin Grove and fifth-year senior Scott Loesser, met two of the three applicants that came to Richmond for final interviews.

Grove said the team was excited to start playing for Peay, and his credentials alone inspired the team.

"His playing experience has a lot to offer us as a team," Grove said. "He is someone that we can look up to."

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The team's performances during the last two years had not been satisfactory, Loesser said, but the team was optimistic because Peay's playing style, a possession game, was something they could all be excited about.

"We know that we have a good team," Loesser said, "but we have always just needed the direction."

Albright said that on all accounts, "Clint was the top candidate and we are fortunate to have him."

The applicant pool was large with as many as 100 formal applicants applying for the position. Numerous phone interviews were conducted to narrow the field to three. Sugg said it had been gratifying to see that Richmond had such an attractive program.

Albright said he felt substantial improvements could be made by the men's team this season under Peay's supervision. He said success was definitely not out of the team's reach, but the team would have to be patient and persistent. He said the team deserved a clean slate which Peay would bring, "putting his own stamp on the program."

While the rebuilding process will be tedious, Peay and Albright are mindful of the rigorous academic schedule that is expected of the Richmond athletes. The coaches said succeeding in all areas of Richmond life was important.

Sugg said the committee had ventured to find someone who fit the Richmond philosophy, "looking at the whole picture for the best fit. Not just the win or lose record, but providing a quality athletic experience."

She said Peay's on-the-field credentials were reassuring, but that his high academic values were just as important to them. Peay has had experience while holding coaching positions at rigorous academic institutions that were as academically challenging as Richmond, Sugg said.

Peay is open-minded about recruitment; he said he hoped to attract players that would create a healthy balance of local, international and multi-racial players. He said it would be important that the recruits he brought in would fit the Richmond mold, but he also said it was necessary to bring in men who might not be the typical Richmond student but who saw academics as a top priority.

The program is currently without an assistant soccer coach for the time being, because Matt O'Toole, who declined to comment, resigned two weeks ago to become head coach at Bridgewater College, in Bridgewater, Va., on Jan.5.

"Matt was a very good assistant coach, and we wish him well," Sugg said.

The team of 15 Spiders are anticipating the direction Peay will bring to the team during his first week at Richmond. The team has started the spring semester with optimism, meeting in the weight room three times each week with lifting coach Jeff Appel, conditioning on its own and playing pick-up games three times a week to keep its touch on the ball sharp.

Contact reporter Dani Pycroft at dani.pycroft@richmond.edu

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