Baia excited for first coaching gig
BENNINGTON --Becoming the new coach for a college program is always a difficult task.
But getting a job midway through the summer with no time to put together your own team?
Well, that's the job Joe Baia is facing as he takes over the Southern Vermont College men's soccer program.
Baia, 25, comes to the Mountaineers after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Rochester last season, and two seasons at SUNY Brockport.
"I'm excited to be here," Baia said in an interview on Friday. "It's my first head coaching job. I've gone through the ranks as an assistant and grinded it out. I'm excited to get started and build something special here with the guys at Southern Vermont."
And while Baia's resume is short on head coaching gigs, the Broadalbin-Perth graduate has been on successful staffs in his short coaching career.
At SUNY Brockport, Baia was a graduate assistant on the staff of Gary LaPietra when the Golden Eagles made the NCAA Division III tournament in 2011, and under Chris Apple at Rochester Baia was part of the 2013 University Athletic Association Men's Soccer Coaching Staff of the Year.
"[Brockport] was very beneficial for me as a learning experience and then as well as implementing things and developing my own ideas," Baia said. "[Rochester was] a great place to learn and grow as an assistant coach and to develop a bigger sense of confidence in what you do."
Baia also coached a youth travel team, working with the Rochester Futbol Club Boys U15 team. Along with his work in the college and youth ranks, Baia is also pursuing coaching certifications with the United States Soccer Federation, currently working on his C license.
Much of Baia's philosophy comes from Rochester, where he did work in every aspect of the program.
"I stayed pretty involved," Baia said. "It was good to open up the vision a little bit and see all the different things that go into a top-level program.
Coach Apples is quality. He does everything to a T. He runs it like a Division I program."
Baia is going to have to apply all of the knowledge he has learned quickly at SVC, as his mid-summer hire has left him unable to do any recruiting for this season.
Baia said that he has 15 players on his side that finished 3-13-1 last year, and will be conducting an open tryout at the school when students return.
"The only pitfalls at the moment is the numbers standpoint, just having more guys," Baia said.
The challenge, though, has left him excited.
"The most exciting this has been reaching out to the guys and getting to know them," Baia said. "They are here for the same reason I am. It is exciting to get a group of guys together and motivate them and jumpstart them towards a goal. We will go through some tough times, for sure, but as long as we know we are going to take care of it together and get through it, we will move on and become stronger people and stronger players."
With so much unfamiliarity surrounding the team, Baia said to expect a counter-attacking style in the early going.
"Formation-wise, it's kind of open-ended. I haven't been able to train with them yet. Things have to be flexible sometimes and you have to be able to bend.
I can't wait to get out of this chair. I'm excited to get on the field and train. Training, and the act of coaching, is the best part about coaching. You spend a lot of time prepping in the office and doing things to build your program ... but, when you get on the field, that is the best time because everything comes together and you are with your guys."
With students set to return to campus next week, Baia will have two weeks to get his team ready for the season opener -- the Lyndon Kick-Off Tournament.
"I'm excited to start training and start getting the guys focused on our style of play and our strategy and direction as a team," Baia said. "I think we have a lot of opportunities to compete with teams and get wins on the board. Hopefully, things come together and we do well."
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