Kristen St. Clair, the women’s soccer head coach, knows what it takes to gain a winning season—or five, as well as preparing her team for success on the field.
Before coming to California Baptist University Kristen bulked up her resume and gained more than enough experience. She coached a few different teams including team coach (trusted adviser who helps build great teams)at F.C. Milwaukee, assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara, assistant coach at Westmont, and the director of goalkeeping at the Futbol Club of Santa Barbara.
Soccer has always run in St. Clair’s veins, having her father as her example and mentor, both excelling at the goalkeeper position. Growing up in San Jose, Gary St. Clair [father] played for San Jose Earthquakes and now coaches the San Jose Spartans men’s soccer team.
Along with being a foundation for the game of soccer, St. Clair also considers her father one of her biggest inspirations. “My father taught me a lot about the game, and it helps that we have the same profession [as coach]. He also taught me a lot about how to teach, care about people and also about my faith,” St. Clair said.
Coming into her sixth season as CBU women’s head soccer coach, St. Clair’s record has been nothing but impressive. Throughout the past five seasons, she has coached her team to winning over 70 percent of their games. With St. Clair as head coach, CBU women’s soccer has accomplished its first NCCAA National title as well as a PacWest title. She was also named National Coach of the year for NCCAA and Coach of the Year for the PacWest conference.
A high winning percentage, the team being brought to three NAIA Tournaments and multiple PacWest and NCAA championships is not an easy feat. When asked if she had any certain secrets of how to achieve such an accomplishment throughout the seasons, St. Clair accredited her players.
“Our success is definitely a reflection of the player’s and their [hard] work ethic. They all have the same focus and encourage each other to the same goal. The soccer program itself is very determined.”
Even with a notable winning record, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows on the field. Athletes still experience times when a match does not always go as envisioned. That is when the learning experience and improvements come into play.
“Whatever result you receive [after a match] you learn some important lessons that will strengthen your team. Athletics are very humbling, you realize there are things that you need to work on so you focus on the things you can control and strengthen as a team,” St. Clair said.
Serving five seasons as a head coach and recently beginning a sixth, she has experienced the fluctuation of athletes coming and going throughout the season. Just like coaches impact their players, it is difficult for a coach in turn to be unaffected by their athletes as well.
“I learn a lot of different things from my players, how to be a better coach, learning new teaching styles, how to listen- this program is a lot like a big family.”
Apart from being a full-time coach, St. Clair enjoys traveling, visiting new countries, meeting new people, reading, and attempts to strengthen her culinary skill.
When asked about how she liked coaching at CBU, St. Clair answered, “CBU has a great community that goes well beyond athletics. We have such a great support system here that’s encouraging and helps students develop, grow, and become more well-rounded individuals.”