Derek Pittman talking to his team.

Head Coach Derek Pittman talking to his team. Renato Lopez/The Paisano

Q&A: Get to know head soccer coach Derek Pittman

Q: How was it getting your first win here at UTSA? 

A: Any win is a good win. We’ll take it, it definitely was really nice to get that first win against Northwestern State right out of the gate and not have to wait long for it. We were very pleased with how we’ve been playing in the preseason exhibition matches, felt very confident going into that Northwestern game, the players did exactly what we needed to do. I thought we dominated the play in the second half, and ultimately were able to score a goal on a very good free kick. We’ll take them however we can get them, each one of them is very special. You just don’t know when you’re going to get the next one. 

Q: How was the transition coming from Idaho to San Antonio? 

A: Its been brilliant; its been fantastic other than the rain. The players have been very supportive and bought into everything we’ve been doing, from Lisa Campos as our athletic director to president Eighmy, and all of our administration and individuals within the athletic department have been fantastic and very welcoming. Our players have responded especially well with everything that we’re asking of them. We hope that will only continue as we build this program into something very successful. 

Q: What is your favorite part about living here in San Antonio?

A: Playing on this field to be honest with you. My wife and kids, we absolutely love San Antonio. The people here have been fantastic, the food is fantastic, the support that we have from the community as well as the athletic department has been brilliant. It’s really hard to pick one thing, but we hope to be here for a very, very long time and decided to build this into a powerhouse in a sense of a team that’s going to challenge for conference championships.

“We have a tremendous group of young ladies who are hard workers that play attractive soccer.”

Q: What was one of the first messages to the team when you first arrived here?

 A: One of the very first things we did when we got here was build our core values. We had a number of meetings throughout the preseason talking about who we are, who do we want to be, how do we want to get there and what does that look like. Our seniors, our leaders, some of our captains, even some of the younger players have absolutely just bought into what we’re doing. They set our core values and our core values are based on family, grit and toughness as well as integrity. They know how to hold themselves to a high standard of living that way everyday; whether it’s in the classroom, on the field and even in the community. Those core values are what helped guide us, and we’re excited of what that’s going to look like not just this year, but for many years to come.

Q: What have you told the team going into conference play?

A: Work hard. We are really happy with where we are at in the sense of how we played in the non-conference. We know that we’re going to have to step up our game getting ready for Conference USA. It’s a tremendous soccer conference, the tough thing is we have to open up with three straight on the road so it’s not going to be easy. In the 10 games that we are going to play, we got to find a way to get every point that we possibly can whether it be in draws or wins. 

 Q: Which conference game are you most looking forward to?

A: Each one of them, UTEP is always a big rivalry game for us. North Texas is going to be a great measuring stick because them and Rice have traditionally been at the top of the conference so we’re going to find out how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go. There’s just so many games between now and then it’s hard to pick out one we are looking forward to. Middle Tennessee, they’re very good team I’ve known Aston Rhoden for a long time and he’s going to have his team ready to play and compete for sure.

The UTSA soccer team huddled together.

The soccer team before their match against Grand Canyon University.
Renato Lopez/The Paisano

Q: How much do you stress academics the team?

A: It’s why we’re here. Bottom line is, no matter what, we want to win and compete for championships. We want to do the things that make us a great soccer team, but also what makes us great people. Their job is to first and foremost get a degree so we emphasize our academics a ton whether it be study hall or tutoring sessions as well as our academic coordinators we have. We have a tremendous academic coordinator in Sara Gothelf. Colin Howlett and the rest of the group that we have in our academic performance center, they really help our young ladies do a great job and balance how much we’ve been on the road along with how to manage their academics. Our goal is to have every one of our athletes at least graduate with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Q: Anything you would like to tell everyone about UTSA soccer?

 A: Come out and support us. We have a tremendous group of young ladies who are hard workers that play attractive soccer. High energy soccer and a team that you can really get behind, they work really hard for the university, the athletic department and our program. We hope that everyone will take the time to come join us in our next home game on Oct. 5 and get behind us as we make a run in the conference.

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