Grassie continues to strive for success

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Photo courtesy of Marshall Athletics

Marshall’s men’s soccer head coach, Chris Grassie.

After leading Marshall men’s soccer to the first Divi- sion I championship in Marshall athletics history, head coach Chris Grassie has signed a five-year extension that keeps him under contract until 2025.

“Right now, we have the best program in the country,” Grassie said. “I want to make sure we continue to grow and evolve so we can win more championships.”

With the extension, Grassie will look to continue his dominance in the world of Conference USA soccer.

Throughout 38 years of play prior to Grassie’s arrival, Thundering Herd soccer only appeared in 2 finals of its respective conference tournaments, never winning a postseason tournament. During the last 4 years in the Grassie Era, the Herd has catapulted to the top of the collegiate soccer world: 2 Conference USA Tournament Championships, 2 NCAA Tournament appearances and the elusive national championship that evaded every sport in Marshall Athletics since its inclusion in Division I sports.

For many, the Thundering Herd’s national champion- ship was a Cinderella story: a glass slipper that danced its way past a top-seeded Clemson or a lone goal against Georgetown, the defending national champion. For Grassie, though, he seemed to always have confidence in his team and the city behind it.

“The facility, I was in Charleston watching that thing go up,” said Grassie following the National Championship win. “I said that looks like a place you could play some good soccer in. We’ve had all the support when we needed it.”

Grassie’s championship DNA has followed him since the beginnings of his head coaching career at the Uni- versity of Charleston. In just 6 years with the Golden Eagles, Grassie led them to 6 consecutive conference championships and 2 appearances in the Division II na- tional championship. He still stands as the winningest coach in Golden Eagles’ history with 99 wins within those 6 seasons.

With the championship win, Grassie’s name has been etched in history, yet his mind continues to stay on the path of development.

“I’ve been on the wrong side of this press conference three too many times,” said Grassie. “To finally win it, that’s a relief. My mind starts to turn towards 21: how can we repeat?”

For Marshall, the mindset now shifts to the Fall in which collegiate soccer will return to the Autumn pitch for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Marshall is no longer the unranked underdog within Conference USA or an unseeded team in the NCAA Tournament. It is now on top, with the largest target in the history ofHerd athletics on its back. For Grassie, nearly every player is returning except for Jamil Roberts, the scorer of the championship goal and a member of Grassie’s first recruitment class. Every other player, including All-American Midfielder Vitor Dias, will be returning for the Herd’s championship defense.

“How can we evolve this team,” said Grassie. “How can we evolve this feeling and transplant this going in August. . .How do we, then, win it again.”

With those questions rises the certainty that the Herd faithful will be out in full effect. Many who follow Herd soccer will have noticed that the parking lot ofHoops Family field has turned into one of the biggest tailgating sites on game day. A sea of green flooded Cary, North Carolina as Herd fans traveled on less than a week’s notice following the announcement that it had a chance for history. For Grassie, the development ofa winning culture, especially one that fosters so much support within the city, made all the difference.

“What an atmosphere,” said Grassie. “Did the last person to leave Huntington turn their lights out? This shows you, for all those people looking for schools, that there are a lot of mid-major schools with great programs. We won it for them, just as much as us. This was amazing. We could have bought every ticket.”

The Herd will take the field this Fall for the first time since August of2019 as the defending Division I national champions. While the title defense will now run through Huntington, Grassie’s winning culture in Herd soccer will forever have a place in program history.