Volume 92, Issue 54

Wednesday, December 9, 1998

and to all a goodnight


Heads up Basacco leads troops to gold

Men's soccer coach Rock Basacco has been at the helm of Western's program for the last three years. Coincidentally, the last three years have been the most successful for the program.

Since Basacco took over in 1996, the men's soccer team has soared to three consecutive Ontario University Athletics soccer crowns and three straight trips to the national championships.

Coach Basacco's selection as The Gazette's coach of the year was a difficult one, as the past year has been quite a success for Western athletic programs.

The time, the effort and passion put forth by these women and men is not only an outstanding contribution to the Western community but also to the athletes which are coached and guided throughout their university careers. They are friends, role models and even parents for athletes at a very important time of their lives. Thus, all coaches at Western deserve some acknowledgement for their great services.

This year, Basacco gets the nod as coach of the year because of not only what was mentioned above, but also because of the product he helped put out on the field.

After two unsuccessful attempts by the soccer team to come back from the nationals with a gold medal (second in 1996, sixth in 1997), the team travelled to Montreal, returning with the first ever men's soccer crown.

Heading into the 1998 season, the Mustangs were seen as favourites in the OUA and viewed as legitimate contenders for the national crown due to their experiences at past championships.

Basacco was able to prepare his troops for the pressure of being favourites and for the challenges of facing teams they knew little or nothing about.

For example, before the championship game against the University of Alberta Bears, a team the 'Stangs had not faced this year, Basacco and his coaching staff of Tom Perks and Steve Langley were able to scout the Bears in their round robin match ups.

From this scouting, Basacco saw a weakness which he felt his squad could exploit. Using this knowledge, the Mustangs opened up the game with two quick goals against a team which had not allowed two all season.

A debate could be put forth that other coaches had noticed this weakness, but the fact remains that Basacco did notice and it led directly to the team netting the gold medal and the elusive national championship.

A final aspect in securing the choice for coach of the year was that in interviewing players after the championships, mention was made by those players that not only was it exciting to win, but they were happy for their coach.

To see and hear the respect Basacco receives from his players and their acknowledgement of the work he has put into the program made the decision of The Gazette's coach of the year a much easier one.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998