GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – Throughout the spring, the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) will highlight a coach and student-athlete from each of our member institutions in a brief Q & A. Today’s Coaches Corner features Wells College Women’s Soccer Head Coach Mara Primmer and student-athlete Erin Persons.
Coach Mara Primmer wrapped up her fourth season as head coach for women’s soccer at Wells College in the 2017 season. The team has demonstrated significant improvement over her tenure, increasing its win total in each of her first three seasons to a 9-7-1 overall record in 2016. She has also coached eight all-conference selections over her four seasons. Primmer was a Division I player at St. Bonaventure and played professionally in Europe before beginning her coaching career.
Sophomore midfielder Erin Persons (Nassau, N.Y.) is a two-year starter for the women’s soccer team and was the team’s nominee for NEAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. She is a defensive stalwart and is responsible for service on long set pieces. Persons, who has received NEAC Scholar-Athlete honors, is a health sciences major with a pre-veterinary concentration. Persons also contributes to the athletics department as part of the game operations staff during the winter and spring seasons.
Head Coach Mara Primmer
What inspired you to become a collegiate coach?
I’ve always been surrounded by people who were positive role models, and they have almost always been coaches. Since I’ve been young, sport has been important and prevalent in my family. Soccer has influenced my life in positive ways, so when I had an opportunity to coach, I looked forward to taking on that role and trying to be a positive role model as others were for me.
What is your favorite memory or moment at Wells College?
Instead of wins or losses, my favorite memories are when we see moments in games that show growth and improvement. When there’s a passing sequence or concept that we’ve been working on and it clicks, that keeps me coming back day after day. I also really enjoy our alumni games as a chance to connect the past and present. To see how much joy Wells soccer brought to our alumnae and for them to connect that to the experiences of our current student-athletes is truly special.
As a coach, how do you help your Division III student-athletes balance all aspects of college life?
We try to help them have perspective and an understanding of importance of everything they may be going through. It’s a year-round approach. We meet to discuss their academic progress, their social activities, and their emotional well-being whether it’s inside of the traditional soccer season or at other times in the year. We try to encourage them to be well-rounded. When there are academic or cultural events on campus, I will send that information to the student-athletes so that they can participate. The more activities that they can take part in will help them grow as people. We want them to be prepared and have the tools they need to be healthy, happy, and productive individuals in their communities once they leave Wells.
Outside of wins, losses and stats, what do you want everyone to know about your student-athletes?
The most important part for us is the process. We’re concerned about doing the little things right instead of the wins and losses, and we’re trying to develop players who may arrive on campus at one level of ability and increasing that level throughout their careers. When athletes look back on their careers, they remember the moments rather than the results. Overcoming obstacles and coming together as a team, those are the types of moments that athletes remember.
Describe the impact your coach had on your decision to attend your institution and/or on your development as a student-athlete.
When I was talking to coaches and considering colleges, Mara was very prompt to respond and answered a lot of my questions about Wells College. She showed interest in me as a player and as a student. I primarily communicated through e-mail, but also made several visits to campus. Whenever I was here, she was always willing to meet with me and showed me what the college had to offer on the academic side and with our improving athletic facilities. I also got to meet with the team members at the time and I got to know those players.
Do you have a favorite memory or moment with your coach that you would like to share?
In the first week of practices during the preseason, we always have one day of team-building activities. That usually takes place after the first three or four days of training when most of the team is exhausted. It gives us a chance to get to know each other better and know more about our team. We find out fun facts and interesting details about our teammates and our coach. When the season is in progress, coach will sometimes ask us before a drill to recall one of the facts about her, and the correct answer is rewarded with possession to start the drill.
What advice would you give to future student-athletes who may be considering playing for your team/coach?
I think the biggest thing is to not be afraid to ask questions. She is always willing to answer them, even if it’s the same question over and over again. That goes for soccer and academics. And the best advice for all athletes is to enjoy the time when you have it. I’ve had nearly two complete years and I can’t believe I only have two years left.
To learn more about Wells College and Express athletics, visit wells-express.com.
*Information compiled by Joe Gladziszewski, Wells College Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information & Compliance
The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College. Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Pennsylvania State University – Altoona (M Volleyball), and Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s tennis. For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.