Loyola Athletics has announced the hiring of Steve Bode as the new head coach of the Loyola men’s soccer team. January 20. His resume includes coaching at the college, professional and national level, including a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) title with the Ramblers as an assistant coach in 2019.
Bode also has experience as a player, having captained the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for three years. Asked about his leadership and his passion for coaching, Bode said it goes back to his days on the pitch.
“You know it was luck, [I] I had opportunities like that and I had coaches who believed in me,” Bode said. “I think that helped shape me as a coach. Even when I was a player, I always saw myself almost as a coach on the pitch. … So those experiences as a captain and a leader in these teams, I think, prepared me well to become a coach.
After leaving the program in 2019 with a conference title and the program’s fifth trip to the NCAA tournament, Bode described his return to Loyola as a “joy.”
“2019 was a special year,” Bode said. “I spent over 15 years in college football and I think back to this season and the group of guys that I worked with and it really is, I think, my favorite year.”
Although he’s only been out for two seasons, Bode returns to the Ramblers in a season of major change. After nine years in the MVC, Loyola will move to another conference – the Atlantic 10 (A10) – with Bode leading the men’s soccer team.
“I think it’s a big challenge,” Bode said. “And it comes at a very good time. … We’re excited for the challenge, our players are excited for the challenge and one of the things I’ve told them is look, as I see it, we have a lot to prove.
The Loyola men’s soccer team’s 2021 season came to an abrupt end as they fell to the University of Evansville on Nov. 12 in the MVC semi-finals. Having six of their players as All-MVC first-team selections — two of whom were selected to the United Soccer Coaches All-West first team — and placing second in the regular season, Bode said his players don’t were unhappy with their performance.
“Last season, I think, I talk to a lot of our players, it wasn’t how they wanted it to end,” Bode said. “I think they felt like they were underperforming in a number of areas. … So they’re hungry and I think the Atlantic 10 challenge makes them even hungrier and I think we have to be the underdogs in my opinion.
However, Bode is no stranger to big conferences. Prior to coming to Loyola, Bode worked as the head coach of the Marquette women’s soccer team in the Big East Conference.
Bode said the Big East mirrors the A10 as they both have a “pretty dominated Midwest and East Coast presence.” Bode said he was excited to join programs like the University of Dayton and Saint Louis University as a strong Midwestern team at the conference.
The A10 will have 14 teams next year compared to MVC’s 10 in the 2021 season. Bode said he was delighted with the move and the opportunity to play teams they haven’t played in recent years, mentioning how much of a difference it makes as well.
“When you play the same team twice a year, sometimes three times, it can tend to get a bit stale,” Bode said. “And now with a new Atlantic 10 challenge in many ways, 14 teams, more travel, more air travel, you know we don’t know these teams…they don’t know us either, c true, so it’s a big challenge.”
Bode’s run with the Ramblers is off to a good start. In Loyola’s first two games of their spring 2022 schedule, they won both games by a score of 3-0 against Lewis University on March 19 and Western Illinois University on March 26.
The third of six games on Loyola’s 2022 spring schedule will be in Milwaukee, as the Ramblers take on Bode’s alma mater at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on April 2, with the game scheduled for 1 p.m.
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