Tuesday’s guest on Eye on the Ball with co-hosts Steve Rivera of AllSportsTucson.com and Jay Gonzales was Arizona soccer coach Tony Amato, who has won the most games in program history with a 79-47-16 record in seven seasons.
He has also taken the Wildcats to five NCAA tournaments in the last six seasons including a Sweet 16 appearance. He told Rivera and Gonzales that he is “not sure I’ve ever had that moment” of arriving as a program, but his effort “has had some success.”
“After completing the first season, I felt like, ‘Yeah, we’ll be able to figure this out and make it work.’ We didn’t have all the answers in Year One. We’re not the greatest coaches of all-time. I did feel like after Season One, we’ll be able to maneuver and navigate this and it won’t always be easy, we’re not always going to always have NCAA tournament seasons but for the most part, I felt we’ll be able to figure this out moving forward.”
Amato, who is under contract through the next two seasons, talked about his newborn daughter born on May 12, expectations of the program as it still tries to gain a higher stature in the competitive Pac-12, preparing for the 2020 season amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to remain competitive during ZOOM meetings.
“We divided the team into two teams and just had some banter and some competition, one team against another each week, to kind of keep those competitive juices flowing,” Amato said. “Honestly, overall our team theme was just about engagement. How do we keep them engaged?
“They were falling into the routine of sleeping in and not really sure when they were doing their work. Some did better than others. It was really about keeping them engaged and helping them see a finish line. They wanted to have an end date of when they were going to get back. That has been pretty tricky.”
Here is the interview:
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.