St. Thomas University announced last week that John-Ryan Morrison will be replacing Darren Cann as head coach of the men’s soccer team.
“I’m probably one of the most passionate people about soccer that you’ll ever meet,” said Morrison. “I still play. I coached something like 310 days last year.”
Morrison has been to five FIFA World Cups, three Eurocups and a handful of U20 World Cups. He already has tickets for the women’s FIFA World Cup final in Vancouver.
Morrison, 34, was approached just a couple weeks ago by St. Thomas athletics director Michael Eagles, who was asking if he would be interested in the job. But Morrison has had his eye on this job for a while.
“I’d expressed interest a couple years ago. I met him at a function, and just said that at the next opportunity to come up I’d be interested in coming back and helping out,” said Morrison.
Morrison played four years for the UNB Varsity Reds, then in 2003 played at St. Thomas University. That year he led the ACAA conference in goals scored.
Morrison comes into the programme already knowing a few of the players from playing with them on the Fredericton Wanderers, a club team in the city. There he plays with Gregory Young and Matt Thompson.
“I know a few of the boys, especially the local boys, and hopefully next year we will have a few more local guys on the squad to get more interest in the Tommies soccer team,” said Morrison.
Morrison comes onto the team without a lot of pressure. The soccer team has struggled lately.
“That’s kind of the advantage of coming in on a team that hasn’t made playoffs in three years. There’s no expectations,” said Morrison. “We finished last place last year, I’m quite sure we’re not going to do that this year.”
But Morrison knows success won’t come over night. He sees it as a three to five year project. He plans on getting to work already. Monday he is going to start making phone calls, facebooking, emailing, and just doing whatever he can do to bring on more players to help bring the Tommies to the top.
Once he has the players, he wants to instill in them the same passion he brings to the sport of soccer.
“Players on a team emulate their coach,” said Morrison. “I want them to be passionate. I want them to be committed. I want them to stand up for each other. Those are things I bring as a coach and as a player.”
This is far from Morrison’s first coaching gig. He has coached provincial teams, along with the varsity girls and boys teams from Fredericton High School.
“I coached as soon as someone gave me the responsibility,” said Morrison.