One man, one team, one family

Jennifer Zahn

photo courtesy Marquette Athletics

Markus Roeders, head coach of the Marquette women’s soccer team, appreciates it when his players net hat tricks. But this time, the players are appreciating their coach’s hat trick.

Following Marquette’s success in the Big East Conference with a school record of 12 successive wins, Roeders’ resume expanded to make room for his third overall and second consecutive Big East Coach of the Year award. But these are by no means Roeders’ only formal awards; they merely add to the dozens he accumulated during his 15-year coaching career at Marquette.

To name a few, Roeders garnered eight Coach of the Year awards: one Conference USA Coach of the Decade award, two back-to-back Big East Conference regular season division titles and now, nine NCAA tournament appearances after the 2010-2011 team advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history.

Indeed, it seems Roeders didn’t waste any time establishing a tradition of success since he began his head coaching spot at Marquette in 1996. He received his first Coach of the Year award during his inaugural season with women’s soccer for guiding the team to twice as many wins as had ever been recorded in the team’s history.

In spite of these tremendous accomplishments, Roeders doesn’t put himself on a pedestal; he insists it was a team effort.

“Individual awards are not very important to me personally. I know that none of these awards would be forthcoming if we didn’t have a great team,” he said. “I am humbled that my name has been attached to those awards, but the rewarding part is that we have done it as a team.”

But underlying all the accolades and milestones is Roeders’ specific coaching philosophy that emphasizes the inherent power of a team with the importance of family; this provided the catalyst for the women’s soccer program’s prosperous history.

“Our overall success comes from representing a wonderful university that has brought outstanding student-athletes to Marquette wanting to be part of it on and off the field,” Roeders said. “Within the university and even more specifically our program, we put tremendous value into family. What we do as a team is much more than competing on the field every day.”

Assistant coach Hideki Nakada agreed that Roeders’ holistic approach to team building is central to the program’s winning legacy. “Markus is a good soccer coach, no doubt about it. In my opinion, though, he has been successful on the field because of the way he goes about things off the field,” Nakada said. “He genuinely cares about our players. He wants them to succeed on the field, obviously, but he wants them to succeed in life more than anything else.”

For coaches, one of the most central aspects of constructing an elite team starts with recruitment. But when Roeders recruits for new additions to his soccer family, he doesn’t just go for the really good players, according to Ashley Stemmeler, a redshirt-sophomore midfielder.

“It’s more about their personality, how they do in school; all of that plays a factor in his recruiting, and that’s why we have the team we do:  just a bunch of really great girls who get along really well, play well together and just have a great time on and off the field,” Stemmeler said. “He recruits really solid people that come from good families, and that comes back to everything—family.”

Roeders truly personifies the ultimate family man. According to senior goalkeeper Natalie Kulla, Roeders knows how to balance time appropriately between his 31-member family at Marquette with his wife and son in Cedarburg, Wis.

“He has a lot of things to focus on, but he knows the right times to put us first and knows when he needs to help his family,” Kulla said. “I respect him as a person because I think there are a lot of really hard days for him, but you could never tell because he’s so high-spirited.”

Stemmeler also sees Roeders’ dedication to the team through his fun, energetic approach to coaching, which has an infectious effect on the team’s dynamic.

“He is just always very positive and wants everyone to play the best they can and make everyone better. He’s really about the family aspect, and that’s what I really like about our team, that everything is together,” Stemmeler said. “The environment here is so great to be a part of; it’s just fun.”

Nakada also believes in Roeders’ big, happy soccer family strategy.

“He has a way of making the girls work as hard as they can while having fun doing it. The girls know how much he cares and that he would do anything for them and do everything he can to make them better,” Nakada said. “I truly believe they cherish and enjoy playing for him. They buy into his system. It is a powerful thing when all 31 players are all on the same page.”

Although Roeders is the last to credit himself, it is very apparent he created an unrelenting phenomenon that resonates with his players and their success as a result of his family-focused coaching methods.

“Trust, hard work, dedication, tradition, pride, communication, humility and unselfishness—they have all played a part in the achievements,” Roeders said. “I think it has proven to work well for us and our women’s soccer family at Marquette.”

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