July 8, 2011
Each weekday in the month of July, MGoBlue.com will feature an interview with a U-M head coach. U-M women's soccer head coach Greg Ryan wraps up week one of the MGoBlue.com Summer Sessions, discussing soccer's short preseason, going to Europe, mowing lawns as a kid, and fending off a barracuda in St. Thomas.
What makes the summer in women's soccer so unique?
It's a long time where we don't get to train, from an athletics standpoint. We go from April 12 to August 3 with no training, and then we're playing games that count two weeks later. That's unique because no other professional or club team would start up two weeks after they got going again.
Why are the summer months so important to the development of your team?
The critical thing is the fitness component. If they don't do their fitness component -- and we can't make it mandatory -- and they come in unfit for soccer, they are going to be useless. That's so critical. If they are playing, they'll come back ready to play. If they don't do those two things, we're in a lot of trouble, and there's nothing I can do about it. It's like flying an airplane. I've got to trust that guy to get us there, because I don't know how he keeps that thing in the air!
What do you see as the team's biggest strength heading into next season?
We're just improving our talent level every year. This year, we'll have very good attacking players. From where this team has come from, they were very strong defensively and holding the fort, but not so strong offensively. With each passing year, we are becoming much, much stronger in terms of our attacking, so we should see a lot of goals. I'm just hoping we defend as well as we have.
What was your first summer job?
I mowed lawns when I was a kid. I think I got paid two or three dollars for a whole lawn. One day, I fell out of a lady's tree -- I was trimming her ivy -- and put my hand in a hornets nest. She didn't have enough money to pay me at the end, so I decided I should probably look for a new summer job.
Do you or did you have any special travel plans this summer?
I went to Belfast (Northern Ireland) and finished up my European coaching license. I got my "A" license this summer. It's a two year program. I went last summer and then went back this summer. I made a lot of great friends. I love Irish people. My last name, Ryan, I fit in pretty well over there. That was really, really fun.
Tell us one unique thing you've done since the season ended?
The most unique thing I did last year, my girlfriend, Debbie, and I went to St. Thomas, and I went scuba diving for the first time in my life. I love the water. I actually saw a barracuda from about five feet away from me. He actually snapped up a fish. I thought he was going to come after me. All I saw were his teeth and his eyes. Then he turned sideways and looked about six feet long. That was a good-sized fish.
Past MGoBlue.com Summer Sessions
Head Men's Tennis Coach Bruce Berque (July 7)
Head Men's Track & Field Coach Fred LaPlante (July 6)
Head Water Polo Coach Matt Anderson (July 5)
Head Men's Swimming & Diving Coach Mike Bottom (July 1)