Oct. 10, 2005
By Melissa Wheeler
Special to FSU Sports Information
Great teams are more than just a group of talented players and coaches. Finding success as a team means being able to work productively together on and off the playing field. So far this season, it looks like the Florida State players and the new coaching staff has been able to do that. The collaboration has led the team to a No.6 national ranking and an 11-2-0 start, the best in school history. Although head coach Mark Krikorian is only in his first season at Florida State, the team’s success is in large part due to a remarkable but somewhat unconventional staff. Krikorian has two full time assistants and a volunteer assistant who have each been in charge of their own collegiate programs and has a combined 47 years of coaching experience.
While having four head coaches on staff could lead to a clash of egos, not with these four coaches. The Seminole staff in 2005 is a Dream Team on and off the field. The staff loves the game and enjoys one another. Krikorian has given each coach a huge responsibility. Mick Statham is in charge of the Seminole attack. Erica Walsh coaches the FSU defense and Lisa Cole is in charge of the keepers. Krikorian has complete faith in each of his assistants and looking at each one’s resume, for good reason.
Statham has coached a total of 17 years at many levels of the game in the United States and in England. Although he is only in his first year with Florida State, he is no stranger to Krikorian. Statham worked with Krikorian as a team administrator and assistant coach for the Philadelphia Charge, a professional team in the WUSA. Statham and Krikorian have a friendship that spans over 15 years. The two met at Franklin Pierce College where Statham was a four year scholarship player. While Statham was playing for the Franklin Pierce men’s team, Krikorian was also the head coach for the women’s team. According to Statham, Krikorian was quite popular with the men’s team at Franklin Pierce. He would join in on their training sessions where he earned the respect of Statham and the rest of his teammates.
Fifteen years after meeting in New Hampshire, the two coaches have reconnected in Tallahassee, with the goal of bringing a national championship to Florida State. There are many reasons that Statham decided to join the staff at Florida State. He explained, “I was impressed with the passion Florida State has towards its athletics, and I wanted to work with the best female players in the best league.” Although these are contributing factors that led to his decision to coaching at Florida State, the main reason was to work with Krikorian.
“I trust him; he knows me and what I value,” said Statham. “He values what I value, and that is important to me. There is only one coach in the country I would move my family to work with and Mark is that guy. I believe in what he does and what he is going to do at Florida State. That is as high a compliment as I can give him.”
Statham has gained knowledge not only as an assistant coach, but also by running his own collegiate program. He was the head coach of the men’s team at Mount St. Mary College, in Newburgh, NY. This experience is a tremendous advantage to Krikorian, as well as to the Florida State soccer program. He also has the added insight he has gained as a staff member with the United States U-19 Women’s National team, assistant coach of the men’s team at Pennsylvania University, and a long history of involvement at the youth level. The team oriented attitude of the women’s game is one of the things he enjoys the most and he has found that within the players at Florida State. “We couldn’t ask any more than how well the team is around each other,” Statham said. “When you enjoy being around a group, it makes you want to see them, and it makes them enjoyable to coach.”
Walsh is another member of Krikorian’s `Dream Team’ who has also worked with him in the past. She was Krikorian’s assistant with the US U-19 National Team the year they won the bronze medal in the 2004 World Cup in Thailand. She also brings head coaching experience to the table spending three seasons heading up the women’s soccer program at Dartmouth College. Since December 2004, Walsh has also been the head coach of the US U-17 National team, a position she still holds today.
As a head coach, Walsh led her Dartmouth team to two Ivy League championships, three NCAA tournament appearances, and two trips to the NCAA Sweet 16. This experience as a head coach has taught her many things that will guide her as an assistant coach. “It has taught me to be decisive and to be accountable for the choices made in the program. It has also taught me how to win,” Walsh said.
Hard work and success is something Walsh is familiar with, which will have a positive influence on all aspects of this Florida State program. After coaching at the college level for many years, she has also learned how a successful program works. “It’s a process. It is important to develop players as people and for them to get an education,” Walsh said.
She has also learned a lot about the game working with Mark, including ways to break down the game and opponents. She respects Krikorian’s mentality; “He expects a certain level from his players, and he gives that level back to them,” Walsh stated.
Adding to the list of highly qualified coaches is Cole. As a player, she was a first-class goalkeeper for Pacific Lutheran, and she is now considered one of the country’s top goalkeeping coaches.
“I always knew I wanted to coach. I started coaching at a junior high school while I was playing in college. When I got out of school, I got lucky with a full time position as a coach and in the end got to do what I wanted to do,” said Cole.
Like her fellow coaches, Cole has valuable head coaching experience. She was the head coach for the University of Rhode Island where she led the team to its first NCAA tournament appearance. Prior to coaching at URI, she was the assistant coach at the University of Connecticut. During her time at UConn, the team advanced to the Elite 8 twice and the Sweet Sixteen once. Cole also was an assistant coach for the University of Mississippi when the team won the SEC Western Division Championship for the first time.
Along with the rest of the coaching staff, she has had first hand experience with success. Having experienced such accomplishments made her want to coach at Florida State. She has confidence that under the leadership of Krikorian, the team is bound for high achievements. “Success is one of the appeals of being here at Florida State. Mark has drive and he is very successful,” Cole explained.
Although these coaches individually bring different elements to the program, they collectively combine their attributes to form one single component striving for a common goal. Because of the knowledge each of them has gained through their own personal experiences, they are able to rely on each other in their pursuit to excel at the highest level. The coaches’ teamwork with each other as well as with their players is one of the strongest characteristics of this soccer program in 2005. That strength is what separates the Seminoles from their competition once they step over those lines and onto the playing field.