West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons named Dan Stratford the new head coach for the WVU men’s soccer team back in January. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the beginning of his tenure much different than he ever could have predicted.
“We had a clear vision of what we wanted this spring to look like,” Stratford said on Monday. “Without a doubt, that has been disrupted, but it’s also been disrupted for everyone across the country. As I said, in light of that, you roll with the punches so to speak, and try to make the best of a bad situation.”
While there is still much uncertainty around how the fall season will look, or if it will happen at all, Stratford is making sure that his team will be prepared for the season to start on time.
“(We) feel like we have a plan in place to make as many strides as we can and still feel like we get to August, most importantly, in the best position that we possibly can from a mentality standpoint, from a physical standpoint,” Stratford said.
There wasn’t a lot of time to get to know his players and try to implement his culture, but it was evident from the beginning that there was already a good locker room presence, one that Stratford is excited about.
“An incredibly coachable group,” Stratford said. “I remember thinking back to the interview process when I met with the two captains at the time, Steven Tekesky and Kevin Morris, one of the things that they felt was really strong within the group was that locker room (and) the culture within the group, and that was apparent to me very early on.”
Since his players won’t be able to be on campus for the foreseeable future, having strength and conditioning workouts for the upcoming season could be shorter than usual. Luckily, Stratford feels that using a lot of players will help the stamina of his team if they aren’t in the physical shape that the players would be normally.
“We do believe that our depth will be a strength next season,” Stratford said. “It is something that we will have to rely on at the start of the season.”