On March 18, ‘09 Eckerd alumnus John Fletcher’s promotion to head coach of the men’s soccer team was announced.
“Eckerd is a place that has given me so much both as a player, student and person and I am now proud to be back here as a head coach,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher played for the men’s soccer team all four years of his time at Eckerd. He was a three-year captain and four-time All-Sunshine State Conference player as a defender from 2005-08.
Becoming head coach was something he’d wanted to do since graduating. Although holding a variety of other roles both playing and coaching in the 11 years that have passed, he says it was always his goal to return to Eckerd.
After graduating, from 2010-2015, Fletcher held coaching stints for the Real So Cal Soccer Club, the Professional Development League Ocean City F.C. in New Jersey, and was an assistant coach for two seasons at St. Leo University.
In 2015, Fletcher represented the Bahamian League Champions in the CONCACAF Champions League in Haiti and was a member of the National Cup finalists in 2014.
“I arrived back at Eckerd as an assistant coach last February and my experience has been very positive,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher’s favorite part about coaching the team is hosting training sessions every day.
“I love being out on the field working hard with the boys, getting better every day,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher was promoted to head coach the same week Eckerd announced they would be sending students back home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since taking over as head coach it has been a strange time... It has been testing but as always I am proud of the way everyone at Eckerd is handling the situation,” Fletcher said.
Although it has been a strange time, he has set goals for the team for when they are expected to return to campus for preseason in August. He intends to create a program that has a clear understanding of their values and continues to produce student-athletes that Eckerd can be proud of. “Winning will be a byproduct of this,” Fletcher said. “In my experience if you get the majority of the little pieces right you usually go onto be a winner. Both from a team and individual perspective.”
The team has been participating in Zoom calls to stay in touch and listen to special guest speakers such as Marc Bircham, Bahamas technical director and head coach of football.
“I’m excited to have Coach Fletcher as our head coach for the next season. I think it gives us an advantage that he has worked with the group before. He knows our weaknesses as well as our strengths. The group seems hungry for the next season under new leadership. There’s definitely reason for optimism with Coach Fletcher,” sophomore defender Martin Anestad said.
Fletcher also intends to make changes with his new role with the program, like putting more importance on what being part of the program means.
“The main thing I want to change is the mentality of what playing for the program really means. I want all of my players, coaches and staff to appreciate how special it is to play for Eckerd College and what the ripple effect of this will be for their lives. As I have said before Eckerd has given me so much and I am excited to watch my players go on and do amazing things in their lives,” Fletcher said.
After having a disappointing end to last season, the team is excited to see changes in the program.
Senior defender and captain Nick Reinauer said, “Being an alum himself, Coach Fletcher is very familiar with the environment which gives him a strong connection to the players. Also, his excitement and passion for soccer can be the initiating spark to turn this program into a successful one.”