Jason Childs was matter-of-fact about his first season as St. Mary’s head coach.
“I had a blast doing it, but it was tougher than I thought,” he said. “… It was more difficult because there was more work to get us better than I had anticipated when I took the job.”
Certainly, a portion of Childs’ sentiment stemmed from the Seahawks’ 4-9 overall record and 2-6 mark in the Capital Athletic Conference, which left the team out of the league tournament for the first time. But Childs said he was also swimming against a current of wayward thinking that he had to dispel immediately.
“We were the type of program where the guys had gotten used to looking at the calendar and circling where they thought they could win a game and where they thought, ‘That’s just going to be a loss,’” he said. “That was the effort and mentality that they took going into games, and that’s the one thing that we’re changing right now.
“We’re not the St. Mary’s team that won the conference in 2013. That St. Mary’s team is gone, and every single person on that team has exhausted his eligibility and has graduated. We are the St. Mary’s team that went 4-9. So there’s absolutely no circling of anything on that calendar unless it’s circling games that we’re really excited to play, which should be all 15 of them that are scheduled for next year. That was our mentality this year, and then we would play with that mentality as opposed to getting better every day and respecting every opponent that came through the doors. We made expectations before we played the game, and that’s how we played, and you can’t do that.”
Despite St. Mary’s struggles this past spring, there’s reason to be optimistic. Six of 10 starters are expected to return next season, and the offense ranked 77th out of 223 Division III teams with 11.2 goals per game. Childs pointed out that no one is planning to leave the program prematurely, which is anticipating the arrival of eight transfers.
“We will definitely be better next year,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind. Building it back up to winning a conference championship, I don’t know if I have a timetable for that because I don’t know that you can put a timetable on that. … I anticipate that we will compete with every single team next year, and when I say compete, I mean be right there with them. That’s my expectation for next year. Whether that translates into us winning the conference and making the NCAA tournament, I have no idea. But I do know that we are going to attack the fall in a much different way than we did last year.”