Coach builds winners

In 1997 Bob Sheehan took over a fledgling women’s soccer program at NKU. That first season the Norse finished 7-11 and were ineligible to qualify for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship.

Until Sunday Sheehan has led his teams routinely to the conference championships, collecting crowns every year since 1998. He has done this while compiling a career record of 108-22-7.

Sunday was the first time Sheehan’s team hasn’t come out of the GLVC tournament with a first-place showing. They finished the game tied 1-1, but were beaten in a shootout 3-2 by Wisconsin-Parkside.

According to Sheehan, the first recruiting class, was key to the program’s success.

“The first year was really important,” said Sheehan. “We had a group of real special players. As a coach I learned to understand the level of competition in the GLVC.”

Apparently Sheehan learned a lot. He would go on to guide that group of “special players,” to four consecutive GLVC championships, three final four appearances and a birth in the NCAA Division II national championships.

This group of players, including Betsey Moore, Tricia Ruark, Jeanna Martin and Lauren Piening, among others has set a precedent for NKU soccer which has continued with the help of Sheehan. He continues to mold his players into better people, leaving his mark on the university and on their lives.

This precedence has continued into yet another postseason. Although the women’s team was unable to capture this season’s GLVC tournament title.

“This particular team has really been delightful to coach,” said Sheehan. “With 14 freshman and 10 sophomores on the roster, this team has really come together and made this a fun team to coach.”

Sheehan and the Norse are expected to enter their sixth NCAA tournament in as many tries. They just keep churning out success.

“We are just trying to get through the day right now,” said Sheehan. “We have just tried to recruit players who can be successfull with academics and athletics.”

Prior to becoming head coach at NKU, Sheehan spent 13 years at St. Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, where he compiled a career record of 195-48-28. If you take that record and add it to the success he has had coaching the Norse, he stands at 319-72-36, a winning percentage of roughly .747. Sounds pretty good to me.

“You just have to make sure you are recruiting the right type of kids,” said Sheehan. “We just always want to be able to get to this level of success.”

The precedence set by the first group of players at NKU continues to carry on. It wouldn’t be possible without Sheehan. The current group of players, led by Senior captains, Kendra Zinser and Becky Schneiders are just more players helping to set the standard of success at NKU.

Sheehan will continue to recruit and coach, all while continuing that standard of success.

“We are just trying to get into the NCAA tournament this year, and advance as far as we can,” said Sheehan. “We’re just going to continue to try and build a solid program.”