Attention to detail

Aiden Lewald, Sports Reporter

With the shining sun comes great opportunities for Hamline’s Men’s Soccer team. Hamline announced on March 22 that they have  hired its newest Men’s Soccer Head Coach, Tyler Oliver. 

Oliver is an Oakdale, Minnesota native with years of soccer experience. He started playing recreational soccer at the age of six, then upgraded to club soccer at fourteen. After graduating from North St. Paul High School, Oliver and his identical twin brother made their way across the midwest to East Illinois University to play Division I. 

While his brother stayed until the fall of their junior year, Oliver left just a semester earlier and transferred to Minnesota’s St. Thomas University where he spent the last two years of his collegiate career. However, during their spring semester of their junior year, his brother  became a proud Tommie also. 

The twins spent almost their entire athletic careers playing on the same team together, and it was only destiny for them to finish off their playing careers together. 

“I’ve been pretty fortunate for my playing background, to be able to play with some pretty special people and special players,” Oliver said, “And also learn from some very special coaches and players.” 

As a result of his career not only as a successful collegiate player, but as a coach on several talented teams, Oliver has gained valuable experience and discovered traits amongst all successful soccer programs. One of these traits being the importance of bonding amongst a team. 

“I’m just looking forward to making sure that they know that I love them, I care about them,” Oliver said, “I want them to succeed not just as soccer players but also as people.” 

Building these relationships is a core part of any successful program, athletics or not. Oliver recalls that he always played better under a coach who truly cared about him not only as an athlete, but as a person. 

“I’m a very, very competitive person,” Oliver said, “I’m a big believer that you are what you surround yourself with. So the more we can drive home that competitive piece and still not cross that line of being disrespectful.” 

With that being said, Oliver only brings positive energy to the team. Being one of the youngest head coaches in Hamline’s history at the age of 27, Oliver is able to connect with his players on a personal level. 

“It’s been interesting, because obviously I was recruited by the other coach, coming into this,” first-year outside back Drew Axel said. “So it’s definitely been a shift from what it was prior to what I was expecting coming in.” 

However, this shift has not been unwanted by these soccer-playing Pipers. Oliver brings in a new and optimistic perspective to the team, a trait most of the players are looking forward to. 

  “I think for the past few years we’ve kind of underachieved a little bit,” senior defender Nathan Vogel said. “I think with a new coach it’s going to bring a lot of energy and positivity to the program. Everyone’s really just optimistic for next season.” 

Despite only having had a few practices with Oliver, the team has begun to adjust well. Oliver has already gone out of his way to bond with each and every team member, even going as far as video calling with a student studying across the Atlantic Ocean in London.
It is the little things such as that that has really sparked the team’s hopes and adoration of Oliver.  

“It’s how much effort [Oliver] is putting into building connections with his players,” junior forward Kaleb Hoye said. “He has already had two one-on-ones with every player on his team and he’s really getting to know everyone individually.” 

Despite this switch happening mid-college career for these Pipers, each one has already adjusted to the shift in Oliver’s practice style. Oliver has been known to critique the little things the players do, even stopping them midway through a play in order to communicate with them. 

“I think the team has adapted very well, we’ve hit the ground running this spring in multiple different aspects,” Hoye said. 

The energy in spring practices has been high, with a newfound optimistic mindset and competitiveness. As Oliver describes himself being competitive, he brings that mindset to the team. He puts them against each other in practice, having them battle for the starting spots. 

“[Oliver is] trying to keep things that were working before still in place,” senior center midfielder Jared Garcia said. “A lot of attention to detail.” 

Oliver believes that you learn improvement and dedication in practice, then you show it in games. If players do not show their growth within practice, then they will not get the chance to show it on the field. 

It is the little things that show a player’s love and dedication towards a sport, something that Oliver seems to be keeping an eye on.  

“You should be paying attention to Hamline soccer next season,” Vogel said. “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.” 

Oliver gives a big thanks to Coach Al, as without his hardwork and dedication for the last decade, Hamline Men’s Soccer would not be where it is today.