The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Coach of the Year calls UCSB’s Harder Stadium home.

In his seventh year at the helm of the Santa Barbara men’s soccer program, Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg received the top honor the NSCAA could give to a coach after guiding the Gauchos to their first National Championship appearance.

“That’s something you don’t ever predict or anticipate. I thought we had a much better chance of winning the National Championship than me ever getting an award like that,” Vom Steeg said. “It takes a long time before you realize that you achieved an award that all you have to do is look at the other names on the list and go, ‘wow, that’s impressive.'”

Most impressive is Vom Steeg’s ability to turn a flailing men’s soccer program, which had never made an NCAA tournament appearance and finished 2-17-1 the year before he became head coach, into a national powerhouse in just seven seasons. The Gauchos have played in three consecutive NCAA tournaments during Vom Steeg’s tenure, culminating in a devastating loss to Indiana on a penalty kick in this year’s final.

“I think that we had high expectations based on our success last year,” Vom Steeg said. “We had a great group of seniors returning. Our goal was to go further than we did the year before.”

Despite the Hoosiers’ victory in the finals, it was Vom Steeg’s prowess on the sidelines that his peers took note of.

“It’s kind of a slam dunk when a coach wins a National Championship that they get the award, so that was a bit of a surprise,” he said. “I think it’s a credit to the way we played in the National Championship game.”

The Gaucho coaching staff is in no way content with merely reaching the title game. Former goalkeeper Danny Kennedy has the utmost faith in Vom Steeg and his cohorts to keep Santa Barbara soccer on the map for years to come.

“Tim [Vom Steeg], [Assistant Coach] Leo [Chappel] and [Goalkeeper Coach] Ryan [Sparre] will be a winning combination for a long time,” Kennedy said. “They spend endless hours which all pays off in the end.”