June 9, 2017
By Brad Muller | More Features
Outstanding talent is one factor in the success of South Carolina women’s soccer on the pitch, but to consistently put a great product out there year after year comes from the hard work of an outstanding staff. The Gamecocks were honored to earn the NSCAA Region Staff of the Year this past season after leading South Carolina to a perfect record in SEC play on the way to earning the league’s regular-season championship while also reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.
“Everyone has a very important role on the team,” said head coach Shelley Smith. “What you see in the fall and the success we achieve is based on a whole year’s work. It starts with recruiting, but then it’s about getting players to make good decisions once they’re here and commit to being the best they can be, on and off the field. It is like a family.”
Smith earned SEC Coach of the Year for the third time in her career last season, but she gladly shares the honor with husband/associate head coach Jamie Smith, assistant coach Clark McCarthy, strength and conditioning coach Alex Buchman and athletic trainer Stephanie Rosehart. Each plays a major role in contributing to the program’s success.
“Everyone has their own personality, and they just balance each other out,” McCarthy said. “We all click. I think the communication between us is huge.”
“There is no micromanaging within our staff,” Buchman said. “We’re all trusted to do our specific roles. Jamie and Shelley treat the student-athletes like their kids. There’s some tough love when it’s needed, but it’s just a great relationship. Having that trust and family atmosphere is what makes it great. They’ve instilled a great culture here.”
SHELLEY SMITH, HEAD COACH
Smith has built the Gamecocks into a consistent national power in her previous 16 seasons at the helm. She has guided the Gamecocks to nine NCAA Tournaments in the last 10 seasons, including the Elite Eight in 2014 and 2016. The Gamecocks won the SEC Tournament in 2009 and won the SEC Regular-Season Championship in 2011 and 2016. Her respect for her staff’s ability plays a role in that success.
“Some coaches are very protective about their way of doing things, but Shelley is very open to listening to what everybody else has to say and then coming up with the best way to go about something,” Jamie Smith said. “She does a great job of listening to everyone else’s expertise and figures out how best to apply that.”
With all of Shelley’s knowledge and expertise about the sport, her colleagues also point to her demeanor and communication skills in building relationships with student-athletes as a major strength.
“Shelley is the glue that sticks all of us together,” Rosehart said. “We’re all very energetic, and she is the calming force.”
“Shelley is demanding, but she is also very understanding,” McCarthy said. “If there is a stressful situation, she can always put things in perspective. She can present things during a stressful time with such a calming presence.”
A high level of trust has been earned between Smith and the athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach as both are allowed to do their jobs without interference and aren’t asked to rush a student-athlete back into play before she is ready.
“Shelley is great because she wouldn’t put anybody in a place that she wouldn’t put herself first,” Rosehart said. “They know I don’t hold people out without a reason. We have a lot of conversations about student-athletes who may have been hurt, if they can play, and how many minutes they can play.”
JAMIE SMITH, ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH
A self-described film junkie, associate head coach Jamie Smith’s strengths are the perfect complement to the head coach.
He cares about the entire process from the time our girls step on campus for the first time to when they’re walking across the stage, receiving their diploma.
“We have a lot of ‘type A’ personalities on our staff, and that’s a good thing,” Jamie Smith said. “When someone misses something, someone else picks it up pretty quickly.”
Attention to detail is also one of his greatest strengths.
“The way he sees the game and breaks it down for our girls to understand, and the preparation that it takes for each opponent are some of his greatest strengths,” McCarthy said. “I’ve learned so much from him in one year in the way he breaks down film, breaks down teams, and prepares us on and off the field from a film stand point to training.”
Jamie has also taken on the role of a father figure in the family-oriented culture around the program.
“He’s the enforcer,” Shelley Smith laughed. “At the end of the day, he cares about these players like no other coach. He wants to see them succeed on and off the field as much as anybody. He can be the one that offers a strong reminder about something when it’s needed, but he’ll also be at their side if they’re struggling with something.”
“He cares about the entire process from the time our girls step on campus for the first time to when they’re walking across the stage, receiving their diploma,” McCarthy said. “He pushes them to be better in every aspect of life. He just cares about the entire process of being successful and what it takes to be successful. He’s always checking in on kids to make sure they’re OK.”
CLARK MCCARTHY, ASSISTANT COACH
Clark McCarthy begins his second year with the Gamecocks and works primarily with the goalkeepers. McCarthy noted that he learned a lot from Shelley and Jamie Smith in year one after recently spending five years as a high school head coach.
“The biggest adjustment for me has been the planning piece of it,” McCarthy said. “Every day, you’re planning to play one of the top teams in the country that has one of the top players in the country. The preparation that goes into playing in the best conference in the entire country is never ending. That drives me. I lean on Jamie a lot to prepare me for that because he is so detail oriented.”
Despite being the new guy on staff, it didn’t take long for McCarthy to make an impact. His efforts paid off last season as goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski earned First-Team All-SEC honors as a freshman, while helping the Gamecocks post 14 shutouts.
“He knows what needs to be done,” said Jamie Smith. “A lot of times he’s already working on things that need to get done before we’ve even had a chance to talk about it. He has a lot of energy and is very enthusiastic and positive. He’s a great family person with his own family, and that carries over into our program.”
“He has a fun-loving personality,” Shelley Smith said. “He embodies all of the things that are important to us in doing things the right way and being a good person.”
ALEX BUCHMAN, STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING COACH
It’s not easy to talk about Alex Buchman and Stephanie Rosehart independently as they often have roles that overlap. They both play important parts in treating, rehabilitating and preventing injuries.
“There are certain things that I trust [Alex] to know more about because it’s what he does every day,” Rosehart said. “So you want to rely on what people’s strengths are. He’s a team player, and he has a very strong knowledge base. His workouts are not cookie cutter workouts. He treats the person individually. That’s what makes him good at his job. He is very detail oriented.”
Our coaches have an awareness of fatigue factor. They’re always cognitive of overtraining.
“Stephanie is really good at coming up with different methods of rehab that work for different players,” Buchman said. “I think that helps our team have so much buy-in to what we do because it’s not a one- size fits-all method for anything that she does or that I do. We might be working the same muscle groups, but we’re going to do it for a different goal.”
“Alex and Stephanie have a really good working relationship,” McCarthy added. “Their jobs are hand-in-hand. What Alex does not only preps us from a physical standpoint, but it also coincides with the athletic training piece. What he does keeps us healthier in how he prepares their bodies.”
Rosehart begins her 12th year working with the women’s soccer program, while Buchman begins his fifth year with the team. Having that continuity within the program is a big benefit to the coaching staff.
“Athletic trainers don’t really have a lot of opportunities to give coaches good news,” Rosehart said. “So having coaches who understand that injuries are a part of sport is important. I don’t break them. I fix them. Our coaches have an awareness of fatigue factor. They’re always cognitive of overtraining. That makes my job, and Alex’s job, much easier because then you have less risk of injury.”
“Steph does such a good job of communicating with us and with Alex so we know ahead of time how to prevent injuries,” Smith said. “She is adamant about protocol and what student-athletes should do. So we have all the trust in the world with her to take care of our student-athletes.
“Alex has been a huge part of the success of the team over the last few years with how prepared we are going into the preseason and how much healthier we are as a team. Whether it’s the proper rest time or the time to work hard, he and Stephanie have a very good plan about what the student-athletes need.”
During off-season periods where coaches are not permitted to have team practices, the student-athletes continue their workouts with Buchman and of course have access to their athletic trainer year-round. The weight room and athletic training room can often serve as a haven where the staff can gain important insight as to what is happening in their lives.
“There are times when Steph is going to know more than the coaches about what’s going on with [the student-athletes], and she can resolve situations before we even know about them,” Shelley Smith said. “She can help players through tough times. So she is invaluable, not just in taking care of injuries, but also dealing with the psyche of a player and helping them understand what coaches are asking.”
“Just being around them more in those areas, you see and hear things that maybe you wouldn’t hear in training sessions,” Buchman said. “It’s not just about weightlifting and rehab. It helps to get to know them on a personal level. It helps because they don’t feel pressured into playing through an injury. It also helps to know other outside pressures they’re experiencing. Having that trust on both ends helps them buy into the whole process of what we’re trying to do.”
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