By Jamie Alicea III| Posted October 23, 2015
Robert Irvine’s desire to be a successful coach has become increasingly evident. Well into his second season as the head coach of the men’s soccer team, Irvine knows the type of team that will be the most productive out on the field.
“I want to have a team that’s difficult to play against,” said Irvine.
Born in Leeds, England before leaving to Toronto, Canada at the age of 5, you could say soccer has always been a part of Head coach Robert Irvine’s life. Before being known as the head coach of the Cougars, he was known as the mid-fielder for Syracuse University who never missed a game in his four-year collegiate career. Irvine was twice named captain, playing for Syracuse and representing the Canadian U-17 national team. He eventually graduated with a master’s degree in public administrations.
After finishing his collegiate career, Irvine played for indoor soccer teams like the Buffalo Blizzard in the National Professional Soccer League, and the Sacramento Knights in the World Indoor Soccer League. Irvine then made the transition into coaching under his former coach in Syracuse Dean Fodi, who he praises greatly for the lessons and opportunities given by him.
Opportunity struck in the form of a head coaching position at the College of the Southwest, where Irvine coached the men’s, and eventually women’s soccer team. Irvine would be named coach of the year as the head coach of both teams simultaneously.
Before coming to Kean, Irvine helped lead a strong Division I University of Pennsylvania program under the tutelage of Coach Rudy Fuller.
“I wanted to get back to Division I, and when I got the Gig at Penn, I hit a homerun learning under Fuller because of his knowledge of the game, ability to build relationships, and be very collaborative,” Irvine said.
Kean University has since seen a resurgence in the soccer program under Coach Irvine as the team went 12-8-1 in his first year running the show, while also hosting a tournament game for the first time since 2006.
“I was at a really special place at the University of Penn, but at the same time I was there for 8 years and the competitor in me needed a new challenge in my life,” Irvine stated.
The Cougars’ season this year is off to a hot start, with the team having a record of 13-2*, including being undefeated while playing on home turf.
“I believe were excelling this year because the team has more experience, more depth, and our philosophy here is that these guys need to fully invest themselves to the season and do their job,” Irvine said. “As a head coach, I believe coaching is contextual and you have to have the ability to learn many diff erent hats and you need to wear the most appropriate hat given the context of the situation. For some guys, you need to light a fi re and for others you need to be more nurturing, that’s just how coaching works.”
The team’s future looks bright as they continue their dominance leading their conference and playing at a high level, as Coach Irvine steers the ship for a championship run, to what looks to be like another magical season.
*Team records are as of deadline