Chat Wrap: Bret Simon

Dec. 11, 2001

BretSimon: (12:30 PM ET ) Hello Everyone. It's great to be here with you. Our team is going through final exams now. But, they are also keeping their focus and hopefully will be at their best this weekend. Let's get to some questions.

Joe (Stanford): Will the game be televised live? I don't want to wait for the ESPN tape delay on Saturday. Thank you and good luck.

BretSimon: (12:33 PM ET ) The semifinals are Friday night at 5 and 7:30 PM, ET. They will be tape delayed on ESPN2 on Saturday morning. Sunday's final is live at 10:00 AM Pacific Time and will be broadcast on ESPN.

Jimmy (Fresno): You went to school on the East Coast and you coached inthe Mid-West so you know the St. Louis & Indiana-type of soccer, how does Midwestsoccer compare to West Coast soccer? What coaching adjustments have you had tomake during your first year in the Pac-10?

BretSimon: (12:36 PM ET ) There is less difference in style and level than most people think. The best teams with the most talented and dedicated players are spread around the country. Each individual team has it's own style and philosophy. My hope is that our style is evolving toward a more player-oriented approach where freedom and responsibility are balanced. Hopefully, if we play well enough, we can influence that style throughout college soccer.

Derek (Palo Alto): Coach, congrats on an incredible season, and for getting a talented group in form.Obviously, soccer takes time, energy and patience to play or coach, my question is, where did you derive your own love for the game?GO CARDINAL!

BretSimon: (12:40 PM ET ) This is an interesting question Derek. I think every person is different with regard to their passions and interests. My love for the game has increased each year mainly because as I have gotten older and more experienced I have realized that the game is the players. As I have watch my own children start to grow and develop that has helped me see the team as more than a function of winning and losing. It's made up of people who share a common desire. So, my love for the game really derives from my love for working with young people and helping them reach their goals.

Nate (Austin): Congratulation Coach from a CU alum! You've continued your winning tradition w/ a powerhouse program and you're poised to win your 1st championship. What do the Tarheels bring that requires the most preparation?

Good luck!

BretSimon: (12:44 PM ET ) Nice to hear from a Bluejay! UNC brings many great players with a top notch coaching staff from a terrific league, the ACC. But, the thing that makes them especially difficult is that they have the same mission and mentality that we have. They had a terrific team last year and fell just short of getting to the College Cup. They have a great motivation to achieve the goals they set a year ago. That can be a great driving factor. It was the same thing that helped at Creighton last year. On paper we had a more talented team at CU in '99, but came up a little short which was disappointing and helped us push harder throughout the year.

Shane - Los Altos: Coach Simon,What has the change been like coming from Creighton to Stanford? How has your family dealt with this change?

BretSimon: (12:49 PM ET ) Shane, thanks for asking this question. My wife, Pam, and I are partners (maybe equal!) in any big decisions. Our two children, Ben (4 yrs.) and Jake (20 months) are always our biggest concern. Even though Stanford is the most attractive school in the country for me as a coach, we wouldn't have made the move if it weren't right for our family. Thankfully, it's been great from all aspects. My wife works at the Packard Children's Hospital on campus and thoroughly enjoys working with Pediatric Oncology patients and the staff there. My kids love the outdoors and are very happy. I owe a lot of this to the Stanford community and especially to the team. They welcomed us with open arms and that made all the difference.

Kojo (Stanford,CA): Coach Simon, Congratulations on an amazing season thusfar. How do you keep your players focused given the heightened media coverage,distractions etc that come with the final four? All the best in Colombus.

BretSimon: (12:51 PM ET ) Thanks Kojo! The players are in the midst of final exams. So, they only have so much time to focus on anything other than their studies. But, in that open time they have been very mature and focused. I think they all realize that this wonderful season could come to a halt if they don't take every practice and game one day at a time.

Scott (Bristol, U.K.): Hi Bret. What single factor would you like to change about soccer development in the U.S to improve the long term development of the national team?

BretSimon: (12:55 PM ET ) Joe, this is a difficult question to answer quickly.But, I'll give it my best shot. The most important factor in the development ofthe national team is a strong domestic league. The biggest change in the collegegame that could help this process is to play an extended split season played fromSeptember to November and March through May. That would help coaches and theirstaffs to better prepare and develop players. It would also greatly help our abilityto market the games and develop our sport to a more visible, higher level. Thatin turn would help develop stronger players and a better infrastructure for thesport throughout the U.S.

Joe (Stanford): I see current SJ Earthquake, US National team and ex-Blue Jay Richard Mulrooney on the sidelines with the team. Tell us about Mulrooney's role with the team and the benefit he brings as an assistant.

BretSimon: (12:59 PM ET ) Joe, we have been very fortunate to have Richard Mulrooney join our coaching staff. Richard is a great role model for our players. He is talented. But, more importantly, he is humble and his work ethic is second to none. Due to his ascension up the national team ranks and the Earthquakes great championship season he has not been able to be here all the time. But, we follow him closely when he's away and enjoy his help when he's here.

Soccer Tom (San Rafael): Bobby Clark was an extremely popular and charismatic coach for the Cardinal--a very tough coach to follow. Yet, you stepped-in and have brought the Stanford program to another level without missing a beat, explain your transition philosophy and how you were able to get the players to quickly accept your coaching style.

BretSimon: (1:04 PM ET ) You are correct about Bobby Clark. He is withoutpeer in our profession in both style and substance. The players loved workingwith him and the program reached new heights under his leadership. I have beenvery fortunate to inherit a team that is disciplined, hardworking and well-schooledin all the basics. Also, the players have been open to different ideas and trustedme from the beginning. This is not always the case in transitions. I in turn havetrusted them and asked them to be partners in the continued development of theprogram. They have met and exceeded my expectations.

Marcus (Denver, Col.): Coach,Congratulations on the great season. I have noticed you tend to sub quite a bit more than Coach Clark last season. What is your philosophy on this?

BretSimon: (1:08 PM ET ) Marcus, this is probably true at times. During the regular season with two games per weekend it seems appropriate to open up playing time to more people. And those who have subbed have contributed greatly. I believe that has also helped us stay relatively injury free and when we have had injuries (e.g. Andrew Terris late in the season), we had someone with some experience ready to jump right in (GK Robby Fulton). But, there are other games where the experience and abilities of the starters might be relied upon to a greater extent. So, we take one game at a time and I'm confident in the starters ability to go the full 90. But, I'm also confident that we can get a real boost off the bench when needed.

Cardinal Fan (Menlo Park): If you win it this year, how would you top that next year? Also, do you see yourself coaching MLS or US National team down the road?

BretSimon: (1:11 PM ET ) I don't see me or my family having an interests in moving from Stanford. This is the only place we would have left our friends and family in Omaha for. The only way to top this year would be to do it again. And at the same time we want to grow our program to be a model for all other college programs - - - from the quality of our students, to our outreach efforts in the community, to our facilities, and to the number of people in the stands. So, we have a lot of room to grow in a lot of areas!

Jake Simon (Palo Alto): Congrats on the season thus far. Can I borrow the car this weekend while you are gone?

BretSimon: (1:13 PM ET ) Dear Jake,

I appreciate your independence. But, unfortunately, the only place for someone of your stature and age (20 months) is with Dad and Mom in Columbus.

Matt (Woodside): Coach Simon, You've coached a number of great teams in the past decade. How does this Stanford team compare to the 1996 Creighton team?

BretSimon: (1:18 PM ET ) Matt, this is tricky because each team has it's own story and life. That 1996 team was special because it was the first time any of us had experienced that level of success. We were a little naive and so thrilled to be a part of the College Cup. This year's Stanford team is very aware of what we are doing and has planned and prepared meticulously. The expectations are higher which makes the experience different, but no less thrilling. It's very difficult, even for a talented team, to get to the College Cup. The game is not made to consistently reward the most talented team. Therefore, I'm as thrilled as the first time to be going back to the College Cup.

Omaha, NE: Bret, Some of your past players have had 'unique' personalities. Does anyone on the Stanford team have a 'unique' personality, like Johnny Torres or Mike Bustos?

BretSimon: (1:25 PM ET ) We have many unique personalities on our team. Each has his own....quirks! Johnny Torres and Mike Bustos are two of my favorites for their senses of humor combined with their love of the game and team spirit. And they were both great players. This year's team at Stanford has some strange (in a wonderful way) personalities. Top of the list, without a doubt, is freshmen sensation (?!?) Darren Fernandez. I'm sure we will all see and hear lots from Darren through the years!

BretSimon: (1:28 PM ET ) Well, it's probably time to get to work and start preparing. I'm sorry I didn't get to all your questions. Thanks for some great ones though.

I hope to see many of you in Columbus or watching the Cardinal on TV.


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