Sam Byrd, who completed his fourth season as Head Coach of the Earlham College men’s soccer program, announced earlier this year that he will be leaving the program. The college announced former Assistant Head Coach, Aaron Gustine as the new Head Coach on April 11th.
Sam’s spouse, Sarah Byrd, who is currently Earlham’s Director of Alumni Relations, has accepted a new position as Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement at Knox College in Illinois. Sam will be relocating with her.
Earlham had previously narrowed their search to three candidates, including former Assistant Coach, Aaron Gustine.
Since the team’s return from spring break, all three coaches have had lunch with, and spoken to the players on the soccer team. Many athletes expressed that they wanted their voices heard during the process of choosing a new coach.
“We want to make a statement, but we don’t know if our voices are going to be heard. In the end, will we have a say, or will it just be all Earlham athletics,” said sophomore and mid-fielder Jeffrey Douyere. “I feel like as a team it’s the players and the coach working together not Earlham athletics.”
The current Assistant Coach, Aaron Gustine, just completed his fourth year as the Assistant Coach. In 2016, Gustine aided Head Coach, Sam Byrd, in leading Earlham to a victory over in-state rival, Wabash College. He also helped return the Quakers to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Tournament in 2015 after Earlham finished 9-7-1 and 6-2-1 in HCAC competition.
“Aaron fired us up last year. When we needed someone to fire us up, Aaron did that for us,” said sophomore mid-fielder, Drew Fitzgibbon
While all three coaches were speaking to the players, Athletic Director Julie Kline sat in on the meeting and took notes. Players have expressed some concern about hiring a new coach.
“Padgett was really concerned because he is going to be a senior and he is worried that if the school brings in a new coach, he won’t care about the seniors but only focus on rebuilding the program,” said Douyere.
“I’m more worried about who is going to win immediately, long term is good too, but I don’t want to have a rebuilding year and like 2 games because we only got two years left,” shared Fitzgibbon.
Players also have a concern about whether the coach is who he says he is.
“I wish the coach could come to practice and coach us for a day,” Douyere said. “Because when talking to us you can put on a façade and tell us one thing and show us another if they were to get the job.”
All three candidates met with the players before the college announced Aaron Gustine as the new Head Coach.