Western Courier

Guinn hopes to keep hot home record going

By Tom Loftus

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Home has been the place to be for Western Illinois’ women’s soccer team in recent years. Coach Tony Guinn, in talking about the upcoming season as well as his program’s past successes, clearly takes great pride in the Leathernecks’ 5-0-3 home mark last season, their 26-8-5 home record over the past five campaigns, and the team’s reputation as one of the most talented athletic programs on campus.

“We’ve done really well every year, we don’t really settle for anything less,” said Guinn, whose 2010 team wound up 10-6-5 overall, falling to North Dakota State 3-1 in the Summit League titel game last November. “We’re not happy with .500 or anything mediocre.

“We have a bunch of kids who represent the university well, we have a 3.56 GPA…”

Western opens its 2011 season on Sunday, taking on host Mississippi Valley State at 1 p.m. The Leathernecks then play at the University of Iowa on Friday, Aug. 26, before opening their home season on Sunday, Aug. 28 against St. Ambrose at 1 p.m. at John Mackenzie Alumni Field.

Guinn didn’t take too kindly to the fact that his fellow Summit League coaches only pegged the Leathernecks to finish fourth in conference this season in the 2011 preseason poll, despite the fact that Western returns nine starters and 19 letter-winners, and has added several talented new recruits.

“I think preseason polls aren’t worth the paper that they’re written on,” Guinn said. “They’re an absolute joke. They’re a waste of time for coaches; they’re a waste of time for me, because I’m a full-time professor and a coach, so I don’t have time to be doing preseason polls that mean absolutely nothing.”

“We’ve got blue-collar kids who show up in their blue-collar vehicles,” Guinn added, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “We play blue-collar soccer… ironically, we always manage to do just fine against Mercedes Benz (teams).”

Guinn, by now on a roll, went on to tout his team’s hard-earned reputation as a well-mannered group of young women who consistently give a 100 percent effort.

“We’ve always been taking an underdog role, with a group kids that doesn’t give up,” Guinn said. “They’re always in every game, they always manage to come back, they always manage to win at the end… it’s all through hard work…

“We’re not real fancy about many things, but we’re very polite, they’re good kids, they’re very respectable of people when we travel, they have a good reputation on campus as being good kids in the classroom and hard-working, and they’re proud to represent Western,” Guinn continued. “They always do the best they can. They never had any team walk away and didn’t say (the Leathernecks) didn’t do the best they could.”

The Leathernecks will miss the services of defensive whiz Jenny Green, the 2010 Summit League Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection, this season, as well as well as Jill Kevorkian, Kendra Wilkening, Ali Smyth, Kelly Diershow and Caitlin Barrett, like Green, talented members of last year’s club who have now graduated.

Still, Western will again enjoy the services of several returning veterans, including midfielder and team captain Lauren DeWolf, midfielder-forwards Nora Potempa and Jordan Spaciel, forwards Miranda Graham and Amber Davis, and defender Laura Lins.

In addition, Guinn’s club will be boosted by the addition of a trio of highly talented freshman recruits: defender Trisha Quinn, who led Althoff Catholic to a perfect record and the state title last fall; goalkeeper Victoria Kappel, who earned all-sectional honors four years in a row playing for Carl Sandburg High; and Sarah Hall, a forward from Granger, Ind. who led St. Joseph High to the 2010 Indiana state championship.

“Sarah Hall is an All-American,” Guinn said. “She’s the only All-American that Western signed this year in any sport. There are only 15 (All-Americans) in the United States, and we got one of them.”

Guinn added that he has found it very easy to encourage talented players to commit to attending Western.

“I don’t think it’s a hard school to recruit to at all,” Guinn said. “You walk around campus, there’s lots of students who go to Western that are all very happy there; they like the school, they have a sense of freedom at Western, a sense of independence, a good relationship with the community…

“I’ve never had a kid say, ‘(Western) is OK.’ It’s always, ‘I love it,’ or ‘I like it a lot. I really like it. My teachers are great.'”

Guinn added, “What I’m always telling my kids is, the one thing you can always give somebody, the most important thing you can give them, it’s not money, it’s not material things, it’s your time. Just have time for people, and give them your time, and when you’re giving it to them, don’t stand there and look at your watch every five minutes, like you have somewhere better to be.”

Clearly in the mood to trumpet what he has earned the right to call his winning philosophy, Guinn concluded by saying, “You can win anywhere. If you think you can, you can win, I don’t care where you are. You can be successful if you think you can. You have to make the most out of where you are. I really believe that.

“That’s what we preach to our kids, that’s what they think, and that’s what they’ve done.”

This fall, Guinn’s Leathernecks seem primed to think, will and play themselves into championship contention once again.

 

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Guinn hopes to keep hot home record going