Print Edition: April 8, 2015
Tom Lowndes is stepping in as interim head coach for the Cascades’ men’s soccer team, after two and a half years of assisting retiring coach Alan Errington. Lowndes has an impressive career, which includes playing with the Bristol Rovers and various teams in Canada and the United States.
How did you get into coaching?
I played back in England growing up. The passion for the game has always been there, and coaching was the next progression after playing. Every kid dreams of being a professional soccer player, but reality kicks in. Every coach will tell you it’s not the same as stepping on the field, because you kick every ball and you head every ball and you can’t actually go and affect it, but it’s the closest thing you’ll get to playing. So I think I’ve always kind of had that passion for coaching.
What was it like working alongside Alan Errington?
It was amazing in all different aspects. I mean, he’s a great leader, he’s a motivator, and he’s a player’s coach. It was great for me to learn from someone of that calibre. He’s been around the block. He’s coached at every level you can think of — from the national team to the club level — so for me, it was kind of a well-rounded education I was getting from him. There’s not many people with his resume, so that was an honour. In that two and a half years I probably got about 10 years’ worth of knowledge and experience in little bits and pieces. It was a big part of my coaching development. It was a really good time.
So you learned a lot from him?
Yeah, I learned a lot. He was really good at helping me through some things because going from playing to coaching is a big change. A lot of players play at high levels and then they go into coaching and they fall flat on their faces; it’s a completely different thing. I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve grown up with a lot of good coaches. I was lucky when I was younger; my dad was a professional player so I had him as a coach. That was a big thing. My coaches in university were all good coaches, but I definitely learned a lot from Alan.
What’s it like stepping into his position?
It’s exciting; I’m looking forward to it. Ever since I’ve played at the university level, I could see myself coaching and I could see myself being a head coach. It’s kind of a proud moment for me to be able to step into his shoes. It’s also a bit daunting because he’s done so much. He’s built the program from the ground up. Even though the last couple of years I like to think that I was a part of that, he put all the major groundwork into making the men’s soccer a very competitive team. He’s also a very big personality. There’s that added bit of pressure: am I as funny as him? Am I as big a personality? But I think that will come with time. I’m just excited, I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I wish it was almost now, because I’m itching to start playing games. It’s going to be a long summer, but there’s plenty to do and get ready for the season.
What are you hoping to achieve over the year?
I honestly think we should be contending for the title in Canada West. That might seem like a bold statement, but looking at the squad we’ve got, the players we’ve got returning, the new recruits coming in, and also looking at the other teams in the conference and what they’ve lost, what they’ve gained, I honestly don’t think there’s going to be much difference. I believe this squad is more than capable to go to nationals. This squad’s got just as good a chance as anyone. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that nationals is in the back of my head and that’s something that I want to achieve, but we’ll take it one game at a time.
Is there anything you want to change?
It’s cliché, but if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. There are one or two things we’re going to tweak; pre-season is going to be a bit more intense. We’re going to go from one session a day to most days doing two. That’s what I had in university and I feel like it put me in good standing for the season. If you look at how we’ve done, we’ve beaten UBC twice in the past two years — I think the only team to do so. We won Canada West bronze in our first year making the playoffs. Last year we were very, very unlucky not to make the semi-finals. We lost to a last-minute goal to UVIC. We’ll embrace that underdog and we’ll put our heads down and go to work.
Have you enjoyed working with this team so far?
Yeah, it’s a great group. I think the biggest thing is they get along well. If you get along with your teammates and you genuinely enjoy being around each other, that’s a huge difference. The biggest thing in our group is there’s no egos, there’s no attitudes. Everybody just wants to put their head down and work as hard as they can and do the best for the team. Saying that, we’re not just a bunch of workhorses — we’ve got a lot of quality players. The overall level of the squad is very, very high. Having 25 players return including the new players, picking a new team is going to be hell for me, but it’s a nice decision. The competition is only going to push people on and it’s going to make us stronger over the year. It’s a really good group and I’m really looking forward to carrying on working with them.
Are there any particular moments that stand out during your time here?
Obviously beating UBC two times is huge. I believe the one game was 1-0 when Connor MacMillan scored in the 84th minute. So you know, getting into that last 10 minutes of the game — and we had a few chances, they had a few chances, and seeing him put that ball in the net, I jumped 10 feet off of the bench. It was a big, big moment that kick-started that season. Last season, even though it wasn’t a massive result, we went to Trinity Western and we needed a win to make the playoffs, and we won 1-0 and it was squeaky time. It’s always nice to beat one of your rivals — just the importance of that win to solidify a playoff place was a big, big result.