By Adel Ahmed
Nine years after he departed from the men’s soccer team at NAIT, Jeff Paulus is back once again. This time, he is the head of the women’s soccer team.
For Paulus, it’s like a breath of fresh air to be back on the pitch coaching collegiate soccer.
“I love it,” said Paulus. “I really enjoyed coaching at the college level the first time around.”
Paulus coached the Ooks’ men’s soccer team back in 2004. He carried through with them till 2012, when he then took a spot with FC Edmonton as their assistant coach. After eight years with the pro team, he finally broke through as their head coach in 2018.
Having had the joy of coaching both collegiate and professional calibre soccer, Paulus believes there isn’t much difference between the two.
“We’re talking about athletes at the college level who have an opportunity to play pro. Players are around the same age. Younger pros are trying to break in, which is no different than a collegiate athlete between 18 and 19 years old,” said Paulus.
“They all come from the same playing background dating from their youth soccer days. For the women’s level, there’s not a lot of pro opportunities in Canada. So we have the advantage of having some real top athletes here that could move on to the [professional soccer] level.”
Paulus still carries the same coaching philosophy coming into this season with the women’s team.
“I am an educator as well because the academic piece is important to me,” said Paulus.
Ooks Women’s soccer has been off to a strong start to begin the season. Despite the small roster, Paulus has been impressed with the way the team has come together.
“They want to play,” said Paulus.
“We’ve got talented players in every position. We still have lots of room to grow, but I’ve been amazed at how quick they have adapted a certain playing style and chemistry.”
Paulus has high ambitions for his team this season. He’s got his eyes on the prize and is striving for a national title.
“NAIT has come so close on the women’s side with Carole Holt, who’s one of the top collegiate coaches in the history of CCAA for me. NAIT has come so close to winning a national championship but hasn’t got there,” said Paulus.
“My motivation is to come in and see if I can help NAIT achieve something they’ve deserved for a while now, and that’s a national title. The second motivation is getting to work with motivated student-athletes. We have some really good players, and having the chance to work with them at really good moments of their soccer career is fantastic.”
For more information on the Women’s Ooks soccer schedule for the season, check out the NAIT Ooks website to see when their next game takes place.