Loyola Athletics announced the hiring of Steve Bode as the new head coach for the Loyola Men’s Soccer team Jan. 20. His resume includes coaching at the collegiate, professional, and national level, including a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) title with the Ramblers as an assistant coach in 2019.
Bode also holds experience as a player, serving as the captain of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for three years. When asked about his leadership and passion for coaching, Bode said it stemmed back to his days on the pitch.
“You know it was fortunate, [I] got opportunities like that and had coaches that believed in me,” Bode said. “I think that helped shape me as a coach. Even when I was a player I always saw myself as almost like a coach on the field. … So those experiences as a captain and a leader on those teams I think just set me up well to get into coaching.”
After exiting the program in 2019 with a conference title and the program’s fifth trip to the NCAA tournament, Bode described his return to Loyola as a “joy.”
“2019 was a special year,” Bode said. “I’ve spent over 15 years in college soccer and I look back on that season and the group of guys that I got to work with and it really is, I think, my favorite year.”
Despite being away for just two seasons, Bode returns to the Ramblers in a season of major change. After nine years in the MVC, Loyola will be moving to a different conference — the Atlantic 10 (A10) — with Bode at the helm of the men’s soccer team.
“I think it’s a great challenge,” Bode said. “And it comes at a very good time. … We’re excited for the challenge, our players are excited for the challenge and one of the things I’ve been telling them is that listen, as I see it we have a lot to prove.”
The 2021 season for the Loyola men’s soccer team came to an abrupt end as they fell to the University of Evansville Nov. 12 in the semi-finals of the MVC. Having six of their players as First Team All-MVC selections — two of which were selected to the United Soccer Coaches All-West First Team — and placing second in the regular season, Bode said his players were not satisfied with their performance.
“Last season I think, I’m talking to a lot of our players, it was not the way they wanted it to end,” Bode said. “I think they felt they underachieved in quite a few areas. … So they’re hungry and I think the challenge of the Atlantic 10 is making them even more hungry and I think we have to be the underdogs in my opinion.”
However, Bode is no stranger to major conferences. Prior to his arrival to Loyola, Bode worked as head coach for the Marquette women’s soccer team in the Big East Conference.
Bode said the Big East mirrors the A10 as they both have a “pretty dominated Midwest and East Coast presence.” Bode said he is excited to join programs like the University of Dayton and Saint Louis University as a strong midwestern team in the conference.
The A10 will have 14 teams next year compared to the MVC’s 10 in the 2021 season. Bode said he was excited for the move and the opportunity to play teams they have not played in recent years, mentioning how much of a difference this makes as well.
“When you play the same team twice every year, sometimes three times, it can have the tendency to get a little stale,” Bode said. “And now with a new challenge of the Atlantic 10 in so many ways, 14 teams, more travel, more air travel you know we don’t know these teams … they also don’t know us, right, so it’s a great challenge.”
Bode’s run with the Ramblers is off to a hot start. In Loyola’s first two games of their 2022 Spring Schedule, they’ve won both games by a score of 3-0 against Lewis University March 19, and Western Illinois University March 26.
The third out of six games in Loyola’s 2022 Spring schedule will take place in Milwaukee, as the Ramblers will face off against Bode’s alma mater at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Apr. 2, with the game scheduled for 1 p.m.