Ben Pirmann is the assistant men’s soccer coach at Michigan State University and joined the coaching staff in the fall of 2011. In his three seasons back at his alma mater, Pirmann has been involved in all aspects of the program, and in 2012 helped the Spartans claim their third Big Ten Tournament title in school history. The 2012 Spartans also made the NCAA Tournament, defeating Cleveland State in the opening round at home. Pirmann spent the previous two seasons (2009-10) as an assistant coach at Western Michigan and was involved in all facets of the Bronco program, with his primary responsibilities including compliance, recruiting, travel, video analysis, camps, and scouting.
Ben was good enough to sit down with Winthrop’s managing editor, Ryan Matthews, to discuss player management and trust, in addition to the success he and Michigan State have had on the on the field.
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What has surprised you most about working as a coach?
I am not sure what has surprised me most, but I think the aspect that has been most prevalent is management. There are 30-40 different personalities on a squad, so you must deal with each player differently…in order to get cohesion from your team as a whole.
What is the most critical characteristic or leadership quality required in your position?
Trust. The players need to know that I have their back and, conversely, I want them to be able to put their bodies on the line for me.
How has the need for information and data evolved during the tenure at both your current position and in the span of your career?
Anything that can create an edge is vital. Whether it is psychological, video data, stats, etc. – anything that a team can use to prepare themselves better and get a win is crucial.
Who are some other coaches or leaders today that inform your coaching style?
There are so many coaches I admire and who have had an influence on my style. At the risk of leaving out some notables, the following have been very important for my life as a coach.
- Damon Rensing – head coach at MSU
- Kylie Stannard – assistant coach at MSU
- Stu Riddle – head coach at Buffalo
- Nate Norman – head women’s coach at Western Michigan
- Greg Dalby – assistant coach at Notre Dame (as well as head coach Bobby Clark)
- Jeff Rowland – Univ. of Washington assistant coach (as well as head coach Jamie Clark)
- Zach Samol – Georgetown assistant coach (as well as head coach Brian Wiese)
What are some success stories for your program and for yourself professionally?
As head coach – we won the entire 57 team regular season in the NPSL with Detroit City FC. As assistant coach – our team won the 2012 Big Ten Title at Michigan State last year. Advancing two games in the NCAA Tournament felt like a huge success for both my program and for myself professionally.