For Krystal Seidel, the new Macalester women’s soccer coach, the game is all about home. As a child in Minnesota, she grew up playing and competing in a family of soccer players; four of her siblings played Division I soccer. “We played all kinds of sports. That’s all I remember about growing up, is playing different games in the basement and in the neighborhood with neighborhood kids, but it was always at least a handful of us out there,” Seidel said. Competing as a junior at Woodbury High School, she excelled, earning Minnesota’s Gatorade Player of the Year award in 2004, two high school state championships and NSCAA high school All-American status. Despite going on to have a successful three-year career at West Virginia University, Seidel ultimately decided that it was best to return home once again, and transferred to the University of Minnesota for her final year of college soccer. “It was awesome,” she recalled, “I got to play with my little sister, I got to play with a coach I’d known for a while, I got to play with a lot of my club teammates. So, it was just really great to be home and experience what college success was like here.”
This feeling ultimately led to yet another outstanding season for Seidel: a 22-4 record for the year and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. It also led to a new job opportunity when she was offered a spot as an assistant coach at Minnesota, which ultimately led to her designation as both recruiting coordinator and associate head coach.
“I got very lucky for where I got to start coaching,” Seidel said. She held her position at the University of Minnesota for nine years, before accepting the head coaching position at Macalester. Now at a Division III program, coach Seidel has had to make some adjustments as Macalester becomes her new home. For her, this means “a lot of conversations with the student-athletes, just to figure out some of those changes and how to best navigate it.” Despite the proclaimed differences between the two schools, Seidel said “there are a lot of things that are really similar.”
Now, as an experienced coach and player, Seidel can recall how influential other coaching figures have been in her career. One of her first memorable involvements in coaching came with the opportunity to help run an under-14 team with a University of St. Thomas assistant coach, the same team her little sister played for. They soon went on to become “one of the best teams to come out of the state.” Only a college student at the time, Seidel had a thought: “this could be a profession for me, later in life.”
With her playing career finishing and her coaching career beginning at the University of Minnesota, Seidel gained further insight into coaching styles from the two coaches with which she worked. “They are on opposite ends of the spectrum,” Seidel said. “One is very collaborative, and one is—she likes to do things her own way.”
Now, as Seidel approaches the end of her first season as head coach at Macalester, there is some time to reflect on how these influences have played out. “It’s been a learning experience,” she said, “we are starting to form who we are as an identity.” With Macalester as a new home, Seidel has begun to form some new expectations for both team atmosphere and play style. “I want us to be super competitive. Really competitive,” Seidel said. When playing, she also wants players to focus on pressing, winning the ball back in their attacking half and being, as Seidel put it, “pretty possession oriented.”
The members of the team reinforce this. Although the season was not always successful in terms of wins, captain Clara Webby ’19 said that she believes “everyone is ending on a good note.” And, as a captain under a new head coach, Webby acknowledged the value of her leadership role: “I think it’s huge.” Captain Molly Adams ’20 agreed. “There were definitely more leadership responsibilities this season than there has in the past simply because of the transition to a new coaching staff,” she said.
Despite the difficulties of creating new goals, Adams still believes in the process Seidel has begun. “Krystle and the whole coaching staff made us feel confident with the direction they wanted the team to go, making it easy for us all to buy into their system,” she said.
Although these are long-term goals, they are already beginning to work on these tactics. With the team supporting Seidel, and a promising roster of young players, Macalester women’s soccer seems optimistic. For these goals, Seidel envisions a team that can achieve them all, and more.