Q&A with Coach Vidovich

Q: What is your philosophy as a head coach?

A: I believe the game belongs to the players. As a coach, I can guide them in their decision-making and help them make the most of their intelligence and skills. But when they are on the field, that's their time to use what they've learned to the best of their abilities. I let them do that without too much interference from the sidelines.

Off the field, it's the same thing. I can help out student-athletes make proper decisions in terms of their academics and lifestyle. Then it's up to them to take responsibility.

Soccer is a great teacher: making good decisions, sportsmanship, setting goals and objectives, learning to compete. Our players have been given a degree of freedom, but I want for their soccer experiences to have a positive impact on their life.

Q: What can you tell us about Wake Forest's new soccer facility?

A: When this facility is completed, it will be one of the premier college soccer complexes in the nation. It will be a soccer-only facility, with a beautiful game stadium and two Bermuda grass practice fields; all three fields will be lighted. We will have new lockerrooms inside the new permanent-seat stadium, and it's all on campus, within walking distance to the dorms. It will be an impressive complex for Wake Forest's teams, and for hosting high-quality tournaments and exhibitions. We're very excited about the project and are looking forward to its completion.

Q: What are the goals of your program at Wake Forest?

A: We are looking to achieve even more success as we build on the foundation Walt and I have already established. We have had high levels of success with out athletes both on and off the field.

In the ACC, to be successful you have to at least make the NCAA Tournament. With the power of this conference, anything less is not considered successful. Right now, Wake Forest is looking for players going in that direction. We are looking for talented people who are winners. We are looking for soccer junkies, those kids in love with the game who make soccer a priority.

The foundation for success is there. Hard work in combination with the right kind of student-athlete will return Wake Forest to it's place among the Top 20 programs in the country.

Q: Review for us your first season as Head Coach.

A: Last season was very difficult for the whole team. For myself and my coaches, it was a completely new situation, for the players it was new leadership, and for everyone it was a time of loss.

As the head coach, I learned quickly about how things need to be done. I learned to stay with the basics: skills, intelligence and ability, and that with simple direction, those basics could lead to success on the field. Although I have been here at Wake Forest for many years, last season I learned to deal with my different role with the players. As an assistant for Walt, I was allowed free reign with my responsibilities, and Walt made me feel that this was as much my program as it was his, and that made the transition simpler.

It is exciting to be the head coach, and it is a great responsibility. I have my vision of how soccer should be played, and will be exciting to see that translated on the field.

Q: What is the potential for athletes to continue in soccer after their college playing days are over?

A: The potential is huge, and it has grown considerably just in the past three years. The MLS is going to be a reality and there is the prospect of some excellent, high-level soccer there. We have several players playing in the USISL and there are overseas opportunities as well. The U.S. team's success over the summer has generated a lot of interest. That combination, plus the growth of youth soccer and the increasing interest in soccer, and you can see that soccer is a growth industry with potential for players, coaches and fans.

Q: You have been a key factor in the success of the youth soccer scene in the Winston-Salem area. How did that involvement come about?

A: I am a teacher and a promoter, and I choose soccer as a profession because I love the game and I want to be sure kids have a better coaching experience in the United States than what I had growing up.

I learned soccer living in Brazil, not just playing the game, but enjoying the enthusiasm and excitement that is a part of the game. When I arrived in Winston-Salem, youth soccer was truly in its infancy. I wanted to share some of that enthusiasm and excitement I had for the game, and hope some of these kids would enjoy it as much as I do.

I am proud of the many of our local kids have advanced to the college level and all the way to National Team play. It has been a great pleasure to watch them grow in ability as they learn to love the game.

Q: How would you describe Wake Forest to a potential student-athlete?

A: Wake Forest is unique because of its size and its commitment to the student. Already providing an excellent education and maintaining an outstanding academic reputation for undergraduates, Wake Forest is still moving forward, with the Heritage and Promise campaign just completed and the Plan for the Class of 2000 just ahead.

For an athlete, the academic reputation and the ability to compete in the nation's premier athletic conference is quite a combination. Wake Forest is a remarkable place and an exceptional package for all students.