July 31, 2019

A graduate of Howard University (Washington, DC) and four year letter-winner, Jason Gross begins his 1st season with Holy Trinity College. We had the pleasure to connect with Jason to learn more about his expectations in his first year as a college head coach.

blacksoccercoaches.org: Why did you decide to take the Trinity University head coaching position?

JG: It was really a natural progression of the work that started a few years ago. We have a wonderful group of student-athletes, and I wanted to continue to build a more robust program for them. The school, staff, and students all have a ton of potential. I see value in being apart of a program who is writing their own story.

blacksoccercoaches.org: Recruiting season ended a couple of months ago, when you were in full mode looking for the next student-athlete to take your program to the next level, what were the qualities and characteristics that you were looking?

JG: Ultimately, soccer is only one component of the college experience, and student-athletes aren’t machines. It’s great to bring in talented players, but I’m always in search of quality people. Players need to demonstrate the willingness to work hard, work well with others, and be capable of injecting positivity into our program. Beyond watching highlights films, I want to observe how players interact in real time in a variety of environments.

blacksoccercoaches.org: How do you rank your priorities in relation to building your program?

JG: First at this level is always nurturing and graduating student-athletes. Very few players move on to play professionally, and we want to ensure players are prepared for life after soccer.

blacksoccercoaches.org: What is your process for scouting when looking for the best players to suite your program?

JG: Typically, we are identifying recruits through highlight films which is our first introduction to the on the field potential. My work really begins with talking to recruits and their families to get a better sense of who the recruit is at the core. If necessary, reaching out to their coaches or additional contacts to gather feedback on who the recruit is as a person. Often times this will be the deciding factor for me on my depth chart.

blacksoccercoaches.org: How do you think your experiences as a player, both at the club and college levels, will help you in the role as head coach?

JG: I’ve wanted to coach since I was very young, so I was always a keen observer of coaches regardless of whether they coached me or not. I think the biggest takeaway is creating an environment that’s nurturing. Human Development doesn’t stop when you walk into college. I want our student-athletes to leave our program having gained a second family, feeling valued, and as prepared as possible to go be responsible contributing members of their community.

blacksoccercoaches.org: What are some things that you would like to see changed or improved by the athletic department to enhance your program?

JG: A lot of what happens is dictated by funding. We are a small school, so there will always be constraints. Trinity has been extremely supportive from the time I started as an assistant. I would love to move the program into a conference. It would increase our visibility and provide a year-end competition the players could look forward to. Additionally, the lack of lights at our facility limits training and game opportunities for the program. Again, building infrastructure is costly, so we must always plan with that in mind. Finally, I want to increase our community engagement, especially in our under-served communities. Soccer was my pathway to higher education, and I want to ensure I provide that pathway to as many under-served communities as possible.

blacksoccercoaches.org: How would you describe your approach to building the program?

JG: I think the first step is bringing in the right staff that shares a passion for the work and ideology. When you have many great minds coupled with positive energy working towards the same goal, much can be accomplished. My approach is ambitious, I want the best of everything for my student-athletes, but breaking down the larger goal into smaller attainable goals moves us closer to where we ultimately want to be. I’m of the mindset that the look and feel of a program can influence the quality of work. As an example, this year we are providing upgrades to the locker room and I’ve worked with the AD to ensure we now have full training kits for each session. Small changes to start, but student-athletes should feel a sense of pride in the extra duty they are responsible for.

blacksoccercoaches.org: Where do you see the program at this stage and what are the next steps moving forward?

JG: The program is in its infancy. We have a tremendous amount of room for growth in every aspect. We will continue to push for the necessary improvements at the appropriate times. Our next step is improving the level of play. With our current group, this means really providing a soccer education they were never privy too and commitment to training that sees them improving individually so we can perform at a higher level collectively.

blacksoccercoaches.org: What are your ultimate goals for the program?

JG: We want to put the program in the national spotlight for creative attacking play and amazing program culture.

blacksoccercoaches.org: Do you want to establish a style of play?

JG: Always! In short, we want players to have fun and express themselves with the ball. Soccer is a fluid, beautiful game and should be played that as such. Our style of play is more about players problem-solving in unique and creative ways. I welcome risk, without it wouldn’t have a Messi, a Marcelo, or a Ronaldinho. We want all of our players to be comfortable taking on multiple players. It is the ability of not only being relaxed but confident under pressure that creates the best moments. Everything we do in training reinforces this school of thought. Once the whistle blows it is the player who is responsible for making the decision with the ball so we have to condition players for that responsibility. We accomplish this by improving the technique, creating a training environment for player-led problem-solving, and allowing players the freedom to take risks. This type of environment always produces a higher individual yield which leads to amazing team performances. ​

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