Students who are yearning for the opportunity to represent UTM as the Varsity Eagles may be wondering what it’ll take to don the blue, white, and silver and step onto the field. Two of the newest varsity coaches, Robert Brown and Damian Yearwood, are here to give us a better idea.

Brown will be leading the first year of the Varsity Eagles men’s indoor soccer team in winter tournaments starting in January 2015, while Yearwood will be doing the same with the women’s indoor soccer team. This is a new level of competition for both coaches, but with years of experience under their belts, both feel ready to help UTM blossom in the OCAA.

Damian Yearwood is a former UTM student who began coaching in 2005 for the women’s Division 2 soccer team. After getting his foot in the door with UTM soccer, Yearwood went on to build his coaching résumé by managing every level of both men’s and women’s soccer at UTM, including tri-campus, Division 1, and Division 2. Yearwood was named coach of the year three times, and enters his ninth year as a UTM soccer coach with the Varsity Eagles.

Yearwood understands that the level of play in varsity will be a drastic change from intramurals. “It will be a pretty significant jump in quality compared to the level we play at now,” he says.

He understands the demands that student athletes will be facing with their academic schedules, but is also aware of the amount of time other teams in the OCAA spend practising and training. “[Students] will be expected to be leaders on campus, which means taking on leadership, training courses, volunteering, and fundraising for their respective teams,” he says.

Robert Brown has been with UTM since 2008, coaching women’s and men’s teams at the tri-campus and Division 1 level. Brown believes that the commitment of team management and players is important in creating a successful program that can compete with the best of the OCAA. “I’m looking for smart players who work hard,” he says. “Talent is obviously a given, but I will pick a hardworking smart player over a talented lazy player any day.”

Yearwood echoes Brown’s “smart player” sentiment and adds, “Ultimately, we are looking for people who are self-motivated.” Yearwood looks for the same quality in his staff that he does in his players and has assembled a staff made up solely of UTM alumni, including assistant coach Nik Pavic, team manager Diane Fric, and medical trainer Dr. Nourus Yacoub.

The indoor soccer tryouts will begin November 18 for both the men’s and women’s teams. Yearwood states that a typical tryout for a prospective Varsity Eagle will be less structured than the team practices and will involve a full-field game where players will have the opportunity to showcase their skills. There will be four opportunities for players to demonstrate their skills before being selected for the team.

UTM has attended OCAA tournaments in the past, so the coaches and some of the players have an idea of what to expect in terms of competition. Although there is some familiarity with teams and their playstyles, the hope for UTM’s first foray into the OCAA is to start building the Eagles program.

Students may be disappointed by the fact that UTM won’t be participating in a full season of play, but the intention of the phys ed department is to avoid throwing players into a forum they were not ready to compete in. Tournaments allow students to wet their feet before participating in league sports. “We have a five-year plan that we believe in, and we have faith in our building process,” says Yearwood, referring to the OCAA varsity plan outlined by varsity program coordinator Jack Krist.

At the moment, the plan is to take a core group of players from UTM’s tri-campus level along with any newcomers eager to display their talent on our biggest sports stage. Although the program is young, the coaches will be preparing student athletes for the future of UTM’s participation in the OCAA. The practices, competition, and expectations will be far more demanding than ever before, but hopefully once the varsity teams start rolling out over the next five years, UTM will be able to look back at where it began and where it’s going.