The men’s soccer team has a new coach at the helm, as Kyle Dezotell was recently hired as the head coach of one of the country’s top Div. III teams and the reigning national champions.
Dezotell comes to Tufts with 16 years of experience as a head coach at the Div. III level, with stints at Johnson State College (2004–05), Norwich University (2006–2015), Manhattanville College (2016) and, most recently, Ithaca College (2017–19).
At Ithaca, Dezotell led the Bombers to their best season in program history in 2018, with a 14–2–2 record that brought the team to the Liberty League championship. In the 2019 season, his team finished ranked No. 23 in the United Soccer Coaches Div. III rankings and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament, defeating Keene State College in the first round before losing to eventual runner-up Amherst.
“Kyle’s experience, track record of success and reputation within the coaching community really stood out, but in the end, it was his vision for our men’s soccer program, his commitment to academic achievement, mentoring and developing student-athletes, and his alignment with our core values that made Kyle the obvious choice for us,” Director of Athletics John Morris said in an Athletics Department press release.
Dezotell — who played at Middlebury, where he still holds the record for most career goals scored — inherits one of the top programs in all of Div. III. Under the leadership of coach Josh Shapiro, who was hired in January by Div. I Harvard University, Tufts won four NCAA national championships in the span of six years, including in the past two seasons. The Jumbos also won two NESCAC championships in 2017 and 2019.
The Jumbos’ recent dominance attracted him to the open position, Dezotell explained, and he looks forward to taking on the challenge of continuing that success.
“What the program has done and what coach Shapiro was able to do was mildly absurd, but that’s certainly the goal,” Dezotell said. “I fully expect and intend to have the program in a position to compete for NESCAC championships and NCAA championships for every year now forward just like the last six or seven.”
The Vermont native also pointed to other factors aside from the program’s success that drew him to Tufts: his appreciation of the NESCAC as well as the opportunity to move his family back to New England.
“To do all that and also become the head coach of the number one soccer program in the country was kind of a no-brainer,” Dezotell said.
His first weeks as a Jumbo have certainly been what Dezotell could best describe as “interesting,” with the current global coronavirus pandemic closing college campuses across the U.S., including Tufts. His hire was announced by the Athletics Department just two days after University President Anthony Monaco announced in a March 10 email that classes were moving online and residence halls were closing.
Dezotell emphasized that everyone is dealing with their own unique challenges because of the pandemic. Because of the situation, Dezotell has not had the opportunity to meet with the team in person, but like so many other people, he has been in touch through Zoom, a web-conferencing tool.
“When you’re going through the interview process and such, you don’t envision your first team meeting being online, but that’s how we did it,” Dezotell said.
So far, Dezotell has mainly focused on getting to know the team and supporting them through this unprecedented time. Soccer can take a back seat for now, he said.
“I’m just really trying to connect with the guys in a lot of ways,” Dezotell said. “I’m just trying to immediately give them that support.”
And when life eventually returns to normal, Dezotell is ready.
“To become the head coach of the best team in the country is an honor,” Dezotell said. “It’s something I really look forward to and I’m eager.”