Head coach Carl Rees sat down with the Fairfield Mirror to talk about how he keeps his team hungry and what works as he readies his team for a second consecutive MAAC title.
Q: You lost only one game over the past two years in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, what contributes to that success?
A: I think with any kind of success, then new challenges come with that. We don’t carry any loose change or weak links. It is really about us being collective and together as a group. Also, what comes with success involves new, more demanding challenges as well as knowing evenly what works and what does not work. As athletes and sports people, you tend to dwell more on the defeats than the wins in life. They stick with you longer for some reason but we want to keep balance and stay humble, not getting pride involved. It’s been such a great learning journey with these guys. We have all collectively grown up which has been great.
Q: Considering Fairfield won the MAAC Championship last year, does the humility play a big role in keeping your players hungry the MAAC Championship again this season?
A: I think humility is part of it. But we also spoke about tenacity. Tenacity is intensity over a long period of time. It’s not being intense for one game or one moment or whatever. It’s over the duration [of the season]. So many things go into a successful team like technique, tactics and fitness and there are so many things that go into the collective psyche. It’s not just about being humble, it’s about being tenacious, it’s about being realistic and being able to deal with setbacks. That’s what makes a good family, a good company or even a good newsroom. My job is to teach these guys to look after themselves and we are all just straight with each other.
Q: How do you prepare your young team for the MAAC Tournament, with some of them experiencing the postseason for the first time?
A: It is really rewarding what we have achieved so far. There is a real curiosity to learn more about the game and to develop as individuals as well as a team. We want to play the right kind of futbol. We want to play intelligent, forward-thinking bright futbol. This is the only time ever that this particular group has a chance to do something. It’s an organism and it’s the only time ever that it will be these 32 people. We have been taking it one bout at a time. We learned to be flexible along the way and adjust accordingly in order to to get the job done. Also, we just don’t get wrapped up too much in the occasion.
Q: How rewarding is it to be named MAAC Coach of the Year along with fellow players receiving notable accolades?
A: The individual accolades are cool but I don’t win Coach of the Year without Javy [Decima] or Jonny [Raj] as my assistants and Mike and Kevin, the manager, and also the lads. I couldn’t care less actually. I care more about developing the group and enjoying what we got going together as a group. That’s what we’re going to remember 20 years from now. It’s not going to be that I was Coach of the Year. I want to know more about how well Santi [Gonzalez ‘22] played or how far Jonas [Vergin ‘21] progressed as a leader as a part of being a central defender. The relationships, the time, that’s what it is all about. I really want the best for these lads and I have really enjoyed my time with these guys. I don’t want it to end because I am going to miss it so we’re going to cling onto the momentum like our lives depend on it.