August 7, 2018

Natasha Ademinkwa is a rising star in the coaching profession willing and able to take any course or program to enhance her coaching abilities at any time. With 17 years of coaching experience, a UEFA “B” License, two bachelor’s degrees in Sports Psychology and Sports Science from East London University and Ohio Valley University respectively, along with a Master’s degree in Sports Science and Coaching from the West Virginia University to her name, the England native is just getting started. This season Natasha has landed her first college head coaching role as she begins her coaching career at Shawnee State University. We had the pleasure to sit down and discuss a variety of topics with her to learn more about her expectations in her first year. Natasha, thank you for taking the time out to sit down with us. Shawnee State came ringing this summer and you answered the phone. Why did you decide to take the position?

NA: I decided to take on this head coaching job because it was a opportunity for me to experience being a head coach in a university/college setting. During my 16 years of coaching I have always worked at academies and clubs. Coming to Shawnee will strengthen me and develop me as a coach in a new environment and culture setting and will get my name known. As well as get more recognition in the states. My mentors advised me when I left WVU, that this will be a great stepping stone for me and will help get my “foot in the door.. and up the ladder”.  I also decided to take on this job as there wasn’t enough opportunities in the U.K. for me to grow and develop. Since acquiring the position, have you had the opportunity to start recruiting student-athletes?

NA: Yes, I’ve had opportunity to start recruiting student-athletes. It has been somewhat challenging to say the least, because of the time frame and the fact that I only decided to take on this job last month. The time frame I have had to recruit student-athletes before the start of the season has been limited. I have been able to bring in one recruit for this year. Next year, looks very promising as I have been able to recruit players from across the states, Canada and my native home in the U.K. Next year will be very exciting, as the recruits coming in will not only strengthen the squad, but for the first time in the program’s history, they will have 20+ athletes in the roster this time next year 🙏🏾 What is the top objective that you hope to accomplish at the university and what are your priorities in building the program?

NA: The #1 objective that I hope to accomplish is getting my attacking players to be involved in attacking play. Through previous seasons, the players have relied heavily on their strikers. I hope to change this and make the team not only a defensive team but an attacking team all over the field. My priorities in building my program is to enable. I want to get the best out of every athlete in the team, delivering the best coaching possible and development of schemes. I also want to increase diversity in the team and increase the roster (looking out of state and oversees) as this is something the program has lacked and has failed to do. What is your scouting strategy and what do you look for in new recruits?   

NA: I am forever scouting for best players, through agencies, showcases and my networks. Also with the help of acquaintances, colleagues and friends in the “soccer world”, my process is to always be in the look out and be attentive when athletes reach out. I’m always in the look out for athletes who have not had luck making it in D1 or D2. For me it’s important a player has good composure on the ball, can control the ball, has a great first touch and knows what to do with the ball before it comes to their feet. They also have to be strong/solid, have brilliant work ethic, commitment and a team player. I believe if players have these, the rest of “pieces” are there too. How do you think your experiences as a player will impact your role as a Head Coach?

NA: My experience as a player has helped, especially when I played at Spurs which helped impact my role as a head coach by learning the ins and outs of being out of season, in season, the expectations, setting targets and goals for the year and working hard the whole way through the year. I started coaching in my teens, this has definitely impacted my role as a head coach where I took risks, made mistakes, faced challenges and overcame them. This enabled and shaped me into becoming the coach I am today. Obtaining my UEFA B some years back now, has helped me learn how to coach players across the field, transitioning from the back to the front (and vice versa) and how to teach the team off the ball movements which is something most players struggle to master. It may be way too early to say, but what are some things that you would like to see changed or improved by the athletic department to enhance your program?

NA: My athletic department is doing great things. Which was one of the other reasons I took on the job. Renovations and expansions are being made and staff from across all the sports help one another out and work together. So I can’t complain. However, one of the things I would like to see changed or improved by the athletic department to enhance my program is to be offered more scholarship money for recruiting to attract more players, especially those who struggle with paying for college fees and need help financially. ​How would you describe your approach to building the program?

NA: Recruit,recruit, recruit 😊. My approach to building the program is getting the best out of every single athlete, fixing the things that need fixing and bringing in more athletes to strengthen the squad. ​Do you want to establish a style of play? If so, how?

NA: Yes, the style of play I want to encounter is defend first and attack second. I want my team to be able to win the ball as a team (first) and then break out and counterattack as a team. I want my team to be able to play quick footy and to get the ball moving across the three thirds quickly. ​Where do you see the program at this stage and what are the next steps?

NA: I see the program at this stage continuing to attract athletes and grow. I also see the program getting more wins and competing again in the national conference tournament. Since losing the programs top goal scorers (from graduation) the next steps for me is to create attacking players across the field and  moving forward to build and develop new strikers. What are your ultimate goals for the program?

NA: My ultimate goals for the program are: maintaining team cohesion/chemistry, work ethic, more wins than loss record, and developing the upcoming freshman and current sophomores (to prepare them for next year). Natasha, thank you for taking the time out to answer our questions and we wish you the best of luck this season.

Shawnee State University will kickoff the season on August 19th vs. Ohio Wesleyen University. To follow the Bears click here.

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