Dublin School alum, Baran Doenmez ’07, has returned to campus to coach the boys varsity soccer team. He brings with him a wealth of playing and coaching experience. Read his bio here. He took some time out of his busy coaching schedule to answer a few questions.
What is your first soccer memory?
I think it must have been going to South Korea vs Bolivia at Foxboro Stadium in the 1994 World Cup with my father when I was almost 4 years old.
What was it like playing professional soccer in Switzerland?
Pretty difficult at first. It took time for me to adjust to the speed of play but after a month I adapted to the faster paced game and fit in well with the team. I started scoring goals and loved the physical and mental challenge of practices in particular. At that level it is also difficult since you are always fighting for your spot so every single day you have to watch what you eat, how much you sleep, etc. All in all, it was a tough but also very exciting experience for me.
Which professional soccer player would you most like to play with or sit down to dinner with and why?
I would love to sit down to dinner with Zinedine Zidane and ask him how he had the confidence to casually chip that penalty in the World Cup Final against Italy in 2006 and then the stupidity to headbutt an Italian player in overtime and get sent off in his last ever match as a player. Italy went on to win in penalties mainly because the French were so shocked at what had just happened. Still one of the craziest moments in soccer history.
What's your greatest achievement or memory as a player?
There are a few moments that stick out in my memory including a few goals I scored in Switzerland and a goal I scored vs Wheaton in the NEWMAC semifinals in college, but one of my fondest memories is scoring the goal that helped us beat Tilton Varsity at home on Parent’s Weekend during Dublin’s only undefeated season back when I was a sophomore. Tilton was always much stronger than us so it was a great moment in Dublin School soccer history.
What do you like most about coaching high school age athletes?
It’s a fun age group to work with. I think one of the reasons is because you are working with a big range of ages all at once and there is so many things that can change from one year to the next so every year is a different challenge. You can have a player who is a tiny freshmen when they arrive with not much of a soccer background and by their sophomore year they’ve grown 5 inches and are starting every game. It’s unbelievable!
What is your coaching philosophy?
For me, one of the most important aspects of coaching is giving ownership of the team to the players. I try to set my teams up so that by the end of the season they are self sustaining and don’t need me. Not to make my job easier but to let the players take responsibility for their own development because there is only so much I can do as a coach to improve the team without them being invested in it. Another big part of my job is helping the players develop as people as well as athletes. There are countless lessons you can learn from sports that translate into the real world so I try to make sure to create an environment where that learning can take place.
What makes a great team?
A great team is founded on hard work, trust, and leadership. Without the entire team working hard in practices and games you have no chance of becoming a great team. You’ve also got to trust your teammates and your coaches in order to build a team that can work together to overcome challenges. Finally, you need leaders within the team apart from the coaches. That is something that I am lucky to have a large quantity of this fall, which is one of the reasons I am very optimistic about the upcoming season!