SAN MARCOS – The most important part of any building is its foundation. And with every foundation laid there is an architect behind it drawing up the plans. The architect behind the men’s and women’s soccer programs at Cal State San Marcos is head coach Ron Pulvers. This year marks his sixth season since laying the foundations of both programs.
With just three weeks remaining in the men’s and women’s regular soccer season, Pulvers has both teams primed to once again make an appearance in the NAIA playoffs.
In 2005, Cal State San Marcos announced that they would be adding men’s and women’s soccer teams. Prior to his arrival, Pulvers had for 10 seasons, coached the men’s soccer team at Baker University in Kansas, and CSUSM had only had men’s and women’s soccer club sports. Pulvers was hired on to build the two programs from the ground up, coach the two teams simultaneously and do it all in just a few months.
“I started in January of 2006,” said Pulvers. “And (the school) wanted men’s and women’s soccer to begin in fall of 2006, which is unusually fast.”
It was a request that, with the help of his assistant coach Bobby Renneisen, they managed to do and did so successfully with the men’s team debuting with an impressive 12-3-1 season record.
The challenges of putting together two programs in so short a period were only doubled by the fact that Pulvers was going to be coaching the women’s program, too. It was something that he had never done before.
“Certainly coming out here to coach one program would have been a challenge, but coaching a women’s team…was the biggest challenge of my career this far,” he said. “It was pretty exciting.”
Pulvers knew that he was going to have to make adjustments to his coaching styles, especially when it came to finding out what motivated his women players and how to keep them happy and interested in pursuing a common goal.
“In terms of coaching soccer – the science of it – not a lot changes,” he said. “The X’s and O’s pretty much remain the same, but the art of coaching, in terms of shaping behavior and finding those little motivational moments, is a bit different with the women than it is for the men. I’ve had to learn a lot,” he added.
Pulvers still continues to work on his coaching abilities, even after six seasons. He has gone to his wife Kimberley, a clinical psychologist, as a resource and sounding board. But the biggest resource, he said, has been the girls themselves.
“If you have an open ear, they will let you know. They have been the greatest teachers for me, in terms of telling me what works and what doesn’t.”
Pulvers conceded that any coach, no matter whether they’re coaching men or women, will be on a constant learning curve for finding what works each year.
It was Pulvers’ college soccer coach Dave Wolf at Westmont College that instilled in him the notion to become a coach, because of the caring feelings that he put into the players. “I want to have a similar effect on my players, and so the relationship with the players is the biggest piece to it.”
Their goal going forward is to win a national championship, Pulvers said, but their most important goal is winning the game of life, he added.
The coaches and players are all working together to move the programs forward. Pulvers is quick to sing the praises of his assistant coaches, including Bobby Renneisen who has been with him since the beginning, and volunteer assistant coaches Brett Crouse and John Burson. On the women’s side, Pulvers is aided by assistant coach Courtney Drummond. The men’s team has also added former professional soccer player Johann Noetzal as volunteer goalkeeper coach.
“We have worked tirelessly to this day to build and to develop and to grow this program and all of the assistants have played a major role and Bobby Renneisen has played a part in it as much as I have and deserves a lot of the credit,” said Pulvers.
The relatively young program is just now building the history and the tradition of what it means to play soccer at the college. “We love the fact that these players coming in have the opportunity to lay the foundation…as we grow and develop, we’re hoping to evolve our identity.”
The past six years for Pulvers have gone by in a flash. He said there’s no secret ingredient when it comes to developing and maintaining a program – all it takes is hard work.