Norwich soccer coach Kyle Dezotell left a historic legacy, and his players will miss him

Norwich Soccer Coach Kyle Dezotell, who stepped down after ten very successful years.

Norwich Soccer Coach Kyle Dezotell, who stepped down after ten very successful years.

“Ten years is a long time to be in a college coaching job in this day and age, and I am incredibly proud of the consistent excellence that our program established over that time period.” – Soccer Coach Kyle Dezotell

After a decade as head coach, Norwich University has said goodbye to Kyle Dezotell, who has the most wins as coach in Norwich men’s soccer history.

He compiled a 131-63-18 record and took over the head coach position when he was only 24-years-old.

Dezotell is stepping down as head coach at NU to take up another challenge at Manhattenville College men’s soccer program, where he will also be the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance. He also held that position at Norwich since 2013.

“It will be hard to find a replacement for such a great coach like Kyle,” said Anthony Mariano, the Athletic Director at Norwich University.

Finding a replacement for such an accomplished coach will be hard since he holds the most wins for a soccer Coach at Norwich with 131, and holds three Great Northeast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors (2007, 2008, 2012). He has also coached the Cadets to five GNAC tournament championship appearances.

Dezotell also has a GNAC Tournament title under his belt with a first-round NCAA Tournament win all in 2008.

“We are very fortunate to have had such a successful program at Norwich University over the last 10 years and I am obviously saddened to be leaving this fine institution,” Dezotell said.

But after such a great coaching career here at Norwich, he is moving on to find new challenges and new experiences. “Spending almost all of his life in Vermont, Kyle wanted a new challenge and experience, and to see a different area,” said Mariano.

Since his first year as coach, Dezotell has coached 15 players to NSCAA All-New England Region recognition, including at least one player in the last nine seasons. He also coached 60 All-Conference selections and 27 first-team All GNAC honorees in his 10 years as head coach.

Under Coach Dezotell, Norwich had reached the semifinals of the GNAC Tournament in all 10 seasons including nine ECAC appearances and one ECAC Tournament Championship title.

Moab Schiers, a junior midfielder for the Cadets, said, “Dez was such a success because he got us to come together and play for more than just ourselves; we all had each other’s backs on the field.”

Schiers said Dezotell didn’t care what year or how old the player was, he always trusted all his players on the field.

“He didn’t care if you were a freshman with no experience at the college level, and he never hesitated to do that, he trusted you would get the job done on the field,” said freshman midfielder Matt Mazzola.

Before beginning his 10 years at Norwich, he started his head-coaching job at Johnson State College from 2004-05, where he was recognized by the North Atlantic Conference as Coach of the Year. He was also an assistant coach at Saint Michael’s College in 2003.

That definitely says it all with how impressive Dezotell’s coaching resume is, but there also was his player resume.

Playing just down the road in Vermont at Middlebury College from 1999-2002, and graduating in 2003, Dezotell left the program as an all-time leader in goals (34), assists (22), and points (90), while starting all four seasons.

Said Mariano, “He was a great player in college and he understood the game, what this institution stood for and though he was young, he had all the necessary tools to run a very good program here, which he did.”

Leaving so suddenly left the players in disarray and many players sad, disappointed, and even mad.

“Disappointed. It’s always really hard to lose a part of the team, and in the past the talk was always about which seniors we won’t have the following year. You get so comfortable that you don’t really think about it, but once you do lose a coach, you realize how important they are to the team,” said Schiers.

But all the players respected him, and because of this, respecting his decision was easy for the players to understand. “I think he is a great person and a fantastic coach and ultimately he had to do what was best for him,” said Mazzola.

Though his departure is saddening, many players absorbed what he was teaching on the field, and what his personality was like on and off the field.

Players noted that on the pitch, he was a very professional coach, not getting to close to them and telling you how it is without any filters. However, off the field he was an approachable person where a player could walk into his office and talk if they had any problems.

Dezotell understood the necessities of soccer, and he worked very hard at recruiting good players and relaying back to his players that fitness was everything.

“Coach Dez was a believer in fitness and being a step above everybody else, especially the opponent. He stressed pre-season fitness as an essential component to our success for the upcoming season and as much as the team hated it, he was right,” said Mazzola.

Many players loved Coach Dezotell, especially for his determination to win and always get better at everything.

“He was a winner and a motivator. He never settled for an average team, and he always held himself above average coaching. When things weren’t going right he had his way of pulling us together, and that was really clear this last season as we battled from behind multiple times to force overtime,” said freshman midfielder Chris Clain.

Winning and fitness was a guarantee when players showed up for preseason. They knew they were coming into a successful program and they expected to win and make playoffs.

Fitness was always something that could be worked on and harped on the most, because players were expected to have the skills and techniques already known and learned before coming into camp and this program.

“Recruiting, fitness, winning,” said freshman left winger Ethan Melia, “he did a great job with recruiting, and he constantly brought in great talent. Fitness was huge with him, and it made a difference with us pushing ourselves 20 games into a season. He also knew how to win, and he was a great winner.”

Dezotell worked has as a recruiter and would travel the country looking for talent from New Mexico, Arizona, and California, to name a few states.

Dezotell recruited Moab Schiers, who hails from South Weber, Utah, during a soccer tournament in Phoenix, Az.

Schiers recalls, “I had been looking at other schools, and was told I wouldn’t see much field time until my junior or senior year. I got an email from him saying he liked how I played and would like to discuss visiting the school. I got to see how serious he was about soccer; he said I could come in and make an immediate impact as a freshman. I decided my best opportunity was Norwich.”

Schiers has been a three-year starter and is going onto his fourth year starting at midfield for the Cadets.

Dezotell’s strengths could be seen from all of the Conference and whatever player was being brought in or recruited by him.

He not only taught the players how to win, but to win with class” not to get too big of a head if you won, as well as mental toughness.

“When I first got to the school I didn’t know just how physical college soccer was going to be, and it took me a little while to transition, but Dez really helped me develop the toughness aspect of my game,” said Schiers.

Many fans, coaches, and players will miss Dezotell – and maybe even the referees he harassed on the sidelines.

“I wish him the best of luck at Manhattenville College and I’m certain he will be an asset at their program. You’ve been at Norwich for 10 years and you’ve really left a legacy and big shoes to fill, so congratulations and thank you for everything,” said Melia.

Players on the team reflect on how much of an impact a coach like Dezotell can truly have on players off the field, offering a model for the game as well as in player’s lives.

“Coaches don’t always understand the impact they have on players, but looking at the improvement guys have made under him is amazing. The help he’s given me to grow as a player is astounding and I just have to say thank you to him for what he’s done,” said Clain.

The search for a replacement is already on the way with over 120 applicants applying for the job, according to athletic staff.

By early March, the Cadets should find their new head coach appointed.

“I’m very proud and confident in knowing that we are leaving the program in an excellent state for the next coach to come in and achieve immediate success; and I am really excited to see where the program heads over the next few years with a new leader at the helm,” said Dezotell.

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