By Michael Lewis
It seems inevitable that Jake Schindler would become a coach.
As the best and one of the most popular players on the Rochester Lancers’ indoor teams for years, the 34-year-old defender wanted to be closer to his family and remain in soccer.
When the Lancers2 joined Major Arena Soccer League 2 and a door opened for the Rochester, N.Y. native.
Schindler felt that Lancers organization owner SoccerSam Fantauzzo and long-time head coach Doug Miller “may have been grooming me for this for the past few years.”
“I didn’t ever think I wanted to get into coaching,” Schindler said on Soccer is a Kick in the Grass radio show on Monday night. “But I was getting to a point in my life where being on the road in neighboring cities was becoming stressful for the family and for me and I really wanted to be home more days and I was away to be with my wife and kids.
“When Sam announced that he was bringing the team back. Just took a hard look at you know what was going on in my life. I felt like I could really make this work and really help continue to grow local soccer in Rochester. So, I thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
Schindler, whose wife Laura and him have a daughter, Blakely, and have another daughter on the way in January, will direct what will be a developmental team. The Lancers will kick off the M2 season with six road matches in January and six home games in February.
Training and tryouts are expected to start in November, Schindler said.
“We’re trying to be overly prepared for a season that starts in January,” he added. “That will give us enough time to start building a roster. We want to build a big roster. We want to make sure that our training sessions are efficient that we have enough people there to go through everything that we need nd that you know we can handle. Injuries, players not being able to make games for whatever reason that it is. We definitely want to have a big depth chart to our squad.”
Schindler said that he will consider players of all ages and experience.
“I have no specifications on age group,” he told co-hosts Andrew Battisti and Joe Sirianni. “I want college players, fresh out of college. I want veterans who might be a little more comfortable and easy on the ball. There are no restrictions on the type of players know that we’re looking for. I just want winners. I want people that want to go out there and compete every single day and are willing to get better. So, current graduates, people playing over 30, if you think that you can compete, we want to see you out there.
“It’s important to make sure that we are bringing the youth in because we plan on being around.”
Schindler noted that he began playing for the indoor Lancers when he was 23 in 2011.
“I want to make sure that I have that next crop of players coming up,” he said. “We’re always going to be looking at youth, but I don’t think we’re going to focus on one area or another in particular.”
In contrast to the outdoor game, it can take players up to two or three years to feel comfortable indoors.
“Indoor soccer is not like a lot of the traditional soccer training that players get,” Schindler said. “I’m looking for players that can learn a new system. They can understand roles and responsibilities and they have to be able to read situations on the fly and react. We want high IQ soccer players, players that are thinking constantly. You can’t really just go with the flow.”
Players can’t just wait to react; they must be aggressive in Schindler’s system.
“We want to have a style of play and we want to impose our will on other teams,” he said. “I want players that are paying attention, are invested and have the right attitude to be successful. The best thing you can do is the playing in your local indoor League, playing futsal, develop on top of the ball, but [have] skill. Just watch as much indoor soccer as you can and actually try to pay attention to what someone in your position might be doing on the field and have success with.”
Following the tradition of the Lancers’ indoor coach taking the field, don’t be surprised if we see Schindler don a Lancers jersey for games, especially at home. At the age of 50, Miller played several contests to spark his team offensively and scored a few goals.
“I played for the past 11 years. It’s hard to walk away from,” Schindler said. “If I think I can add value to the team as a player, I’m definitely going to take those opportunities. Part of building this team is finding out to have the right coaching staff behind me so that if I am on the field that we’re solid on the bench, we’re making the right decisions while I’m on the field and I’m concentrated on playing.”
Schindler said he was working on putting a coaching staff together but did not mention names of individuals he is considering.
“I’ve been in discussions with a couple of local people, people with ties to the Rochester Lancers,” he said. “We’re definitely looking to build an experienced bench group to make sure that we have good game management but also that our recruitment is valid as well. I’m really trying to bring in experts and player development and recruitment to make sure that we’re looking at the right people.”
The Lancers play their opening six games on the road will allow Schindler and the team to get their act together before playing their home contests at the Rochester Regional Health Total Sports Experience facility in East Rochester, N.Y.
“I think that allows us to bring different players in,” Schindler said. “It’s going allow us to look at multiple different faces before we put our best foot forward in front of our home crowd. So I’m excited to see who’s available, who’s growing during that timeframe to really make sure that we’re a 6-0 team at home, which I believe is the minimum standard.”