MCGILL: Grassie Prepares For Full Weekend of Soccer
The Word on the Herd -- March 30, 2017
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Chris Grassie has been on the job 80 days, but he has been looking forward to the next three.
“It’s a full weekend for us,” the first-year Marshall men’s soccer coach said. “It’s great, isn’t it?”
The weekend begins with Friday night’s Bob Gray Recognition Dinner at Guyan Golf & Country Club. Gray retired Nov. 10 as the Thundering Herd head coach after amassing 190 wins in 22 seasons. Grassie, a former Gray assistant, was named the replacement.
Saturday features consecutive games at Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex. First, there will be an Alumni Game with so many former players in town to recognize Gray. At 7 p.m., directly following the Alumni Game, Marshall hosts Grassie’s previous school, the University of Charleston, in the first of a five-game spring schedule.
The weekend culminates Sunday with the Spring ID Showcase at Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex.
“We really need to see some players,” Grassie said. “We’re still looking to fill some spots.”
Grassie said he has devoted most of his time to recruiting prospective student-athletes and evaluating the holdovers from the 2016 team.
“We’ve got 12 or 13 players we’re training right now, so we need to bolster that,” Grassie said. “We got a good start with the guys we got committed in February, but they were kind of already pre-scouted and high school age and they’ll be true freshmen in college.
“We’re trying to add some more ready-made experience … some big-time players who are going to elevate us quite quickly.”
The evaluation process is ongoing, and the spring schedule – which features road trips to Cincinnati, WVU and Dayton, and home matches against UC and Rio Grande – will give Grassie and his staff a close look at the roster. So far, though, he likes what he sees.
“My first goal was for them to buy in,” Grassie said. “That’s not a problem at all. They’re totally bought in. They’re working really, really hard and they’re doing everything I’m asking them to do. The effort, the discipline, the intensity for training – they’re really putting it in.”
Grassie put together the spring schedule from scratch after his hiring. He placed a quick call down the road to his former program to see if they’d make a visit to Huntington. Grassie was 99-20-8 in six seasons at Charleston, which included three consecutive trips to the NCAA Division II Final Four.
“Obviously there’s a bit of history there,” Grassie said. “They are a lot further down the road than we are as far as squad development … it’ll be a good test. Maybe we’ll surprise a few people.”
The five-game spring schedule ends Saturday, April 22 with the trip to Dayton. The only other opportunity to see the Herd at home this spring is Wednesday, April 19.
Grassie said he hopes to add as many as six or seven players to the fold through recruiting. Marshall announced six signees in early February.
‘Right now we are thinking short term so we can make an immediate fix and an immediate impact,” Grassie said. “We’ll be underestimated in the conference and we’ll be underestimated in the nation, in the rankings. We can come out strong and try to win a championship right away. That’s the way we’re thinking right now.”