Bode brings ambitious mentality, player development roots to Marquette as assistant coach

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Steve Bode was an assistant coach for Marquette men’s soccer for eight seasons. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Women’s soccer assistant coach Steve Bode is incredibly familiar with the city of Milwaukee. As a Marquette University High School and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate, Bode has spent much of his life in Brew City — especially at Marquette. 

“Marquette is a place that I know well and have spent time at,” Bode said in March. “My two older brothers went here, my dad went here, my grandpa went here, so Marquette means a lot to me. So when this opportunity came up, it was special.”

After his professional soccer career ended over a decade ago, Bode joined the Marquette men’s soccer staff, citing his passion for leadership and playing as his driving forces.

I kind of prided myself on being like a cerebral player and always trying to think ahead,” Bode said. “A lot of times, I was a leader on the field and was asked to be an extension of the coaching staff. So when I finished my playing career, the next best thing, I felt, was coaching.”

When men’s soccer head coach Louis Bennett was searching for an assistant coach for his staff, he knew the former player would be a good option.

“I knew his mentality — he was an insightful captain as a player,” Bennett said. “He had high standards but he had an appreciation for how people go about stuff.” 

Bode’s connection and relationship with Bennett helped him land a spot on Bennett’s staff after Bode hung up his cleats.

Bennett said Bode’s ability to “view the game through his own eyes” served the Golden Eagles well. At Marquette, Bode helped put together numerous top-15 ranked recruiting classes and assisted in developing 10 players to go on to play professionally including players like Louis Bennett II, Bryan Ciesiulka, Amilcar Herrera and Axel Sjoberg. 

“When you get to the stage as a young coach where you’re prepared to debate and respectfully go back and forth, that’s the best kind of assistant coaches to have,” Bennett said. “It was important that he saw the game through his own eyes but also knew what we needed.” 

Now Bode has transitioned over to the women’s game, currently serving as an assistant coach for MU women’s soccer under first-year head coach Frank Pelaez.

Pelaez said he has considered Bode a Marquette guy from day one, even though he did not attend MU for his undergraduate years.

“When he did get here after he graduated from UWM, it was nice. He spent a lot of time watching our games as well on the women’s side because he just loves the game,” Pelaez said. “We were very successful at the time so I think anytime you’re around a team that is successful, without me knowing, he would watch a lot and try to see the culture.” 

But Bode’s coaching career has not only taken place in the Cream City. After an eight-year stint with the men’s team at MU, Bode headed out to Providence, Rhode Island, where he was an assistant coach at Brown University in 2016. 

“I wanted to get out of my comfort zone,” Bode said. “I really felt strongly that I needed to move on to grow and continue to grow and learn more about my coaching style and develop my own coaching philosophy.” 

In one season at Brown, Bode played a key role in the development of six All-Ivy League honorees. 

“In a place like Brown, you have a lot of young people who want to be successful,” Brown head coach Patrick Laughlin said. “If you’re helping them be successful, they’re going to be interested in more of that. He was able to demonstrate to them that he could improve them.” 

Bode’s ability to build credibility and relationships with players often stemmed from his experiences as a professional soccer player. 

“Whatever someone’s background is, it may provide an opportunity to open the door but you have to have the goods, you have to be able to help players become better,” Laughlin said. “Steve has a really good understanding of soccer and does a great job relating it.” 

From there, Bode joined Chicago FC United of the United Soccer League as the head coach in 2018. 

In September of that same year, the Milwaukee native received his United States Soccer Federation A-Senior License as a part of his work as a scout for U.S. Soccer. For the last five years, Bode’s main role with the federation has been talent identification with U14 and U15 youth national teams. 

Bode said just like his decision to leave Marquette, his other stops were about experiencing different things and continuing to learn more about himself and his coaching philosophy. 

“When you work with high-level players, you learn from those players,” Bode said. “They push you as a coach because you have to find ways to impact them more because it goes beyond the basics. Now you’ve got to think little things about how I can make this forward who’s already very talented be effective and goal-scoring, for example.” 

Bode spent last season as a men’s assistant coach at Loyola Chicago. But after Pelaez was hired at Marquette to replace former women’s soccer head coach Markus Roeders, Bode made his way back home.

Pelaez told the Marquette Wire in March the decision to hire Bode was a “no-brainer.” 

“He is very genuine and people can see that,” Pelaez said. “After we hung up I was like, ‘gosh, he would be someone that, with his personality, would transition to the women’s game.'”

For Bode, the chance to return to Milwaukee was easy. 

“Marquette is like home for me and Milwaukee is home,” Bode said. “With Frank asking and bringing it up to me, I know he has a very strong vision and very high ambition to get this program again back to the stands where it was, so it was easy and contagious.” 

Bennett said it is great to have his friend back in town. 

It is not my job to question hires, but this was a really good hire,” Bennett said. “I’ve known Frank, but for Steve — someone that you recruited, someone that you’ve seen grow and develop, the type of man he’s become, the husband and then father of little kids. I’m biased, but it’s great he’s here.” 

Bennett regularly kept in touch with Bode while he was away from Milwaukee. He mentioned he has seen his former defender and assistant coach grow as a coach.

“A lot of people from the outside might have said he made several sideways moves, but it isn’t,” Bennett said. “Each job is different, each head coach is different from how he works and how he develops, but Steve had to see that for himself, and he did.” 

Pelaez said Bode’s greatest strength is his ability to build relationships with others, and that he sees that in his assistant coach, describing him as a connector of the game. 

Bode said his coaching philosophy and style is a blend of something he has taken from the coaches he has both worked and played for. He mentioned two in particular, Bob Spielman and Bennett. 

Spielman’s emphasis on growing and learning the fundamentals of the game at all times and Bennett’s passion for the game is what Bode values the most. 

Pelaez said though Bode is “unique,” there are a few coaches that he reminds him of. 

“There’s a lot of coaches that I’ve worked with that do have some of the qualities that he has. I think if you’re looking tactically, it reminds me a little bit of (former MU men’s coach) Steve Adlar,” Pelaez said. “Steve is just so unique in how he is able to translate to the players. I feel very fortunate to have him.” 

During quarantine, Pelaez said one of the ways he got to know his new coaching staff was by sharing recipes and taking photos of food. According to Pelaez, Bode is becoming a better chef. 

I told them, ‘to me soccer is like cooking. You’ve got to marinate, you can’t just expect things to switch like that,’” Pelaez said. “Marinating things takes time and it tastes better. Just like soccer you gotta do it slow and easy, repetitive over and over again and little by little it’ll taste better when it comes to the winning argument.” 

In the meantime, Bode said his main goal is to support his players and get the best out of each of them.

“From a family standpoint, there’s a lot of people who are part of the (Marquette) family,” Bode said. “They’re all there to yes, challenge you, but also support you. That’s what I’m trying to do, trying to get the best out of the players that I coach.”

This story is the second story of a two-part series on Marquette women’s soccer assistant coaches. Click here to read the first story on assistant coach Erin Scott.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU