Scott Turnbull’s first season as the full-time head coach of the University of Minnesota Morris Cougars men’s soccer team couldn’t have gone much better.
The Brandon native, who had the interim tag removed from his title last spring, led the Cougars to their first Upper Midwest conference title and first appearance at the NCAA Division III tournament. Although they fell 2-0 to the 12th-ranked Loras Duhawks in the first round, Turnbull took pride in getting his team to the big show.
“Prior to being named head coach, I was the assistant coach for three years and we had some very, very good teams and very good players in those three years and we did very well, but we were never able to break through and get to the NCAA tournament,” said Turnbull, who graduated from Crocus Plains before heading to Minnesota for university.
“Those teams relied really heavily on the star-type players to will us through those games, and it didn’t work. I think I’m most proud of the ability of our guys to get on the same page and work together and be a true team to accomplish our goals. I think it says a lot about their commitment to wanting to win and make it a quality program. To see the transformation of a group of individuals to a true team without one superstar leader is the most satisfying thing about the whole thing.”
Turnbull had a long road to taking control of the men’s soccer program, which was created in 2006. He transferred to the school as a student for his third year of university, kicked for the Cougars football team for two years and played on the club soccer team. He worked as a student assistant coach with the women’s soccer team when it started in 1998 and became a full-time assistant for one season before moving back to Manitoba.
He searched for coaching jobs, but couldn’t find one. In 2007, he joined the Cougars as their assistant soccer coach before becoming the interim head coach in 2010 and full-time head coach in 2011.
It took a while for Turnbull to land his dream job, but he’s loving it in Minnesota.
“Having success makes it that much more enjoyable, but even if we weren’t having success I would still enjoy it,” he said. “It’s tough to move away from your family and friends and that kind of thing and come to a town of a little over 5,000 people, but I would rather not be doing anything else with my life than what I’m doing right now.”
UMM doesn’t lock up its coaches long-term, opting to give them one-year contracts each season. Turnbull has received an extension to coach again next season and he hopes to build on his success this season and get deeper into the NCAA tournament.
“That’s the hope,” said Turnbull, who will lose four seniors from his team due to graduation. “The hard part is replacing the guys you lose. Hopefully, we have some younger guys who we had on the team last year who are ready to step up and fill those roles.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 22, 2012