Meet ConVal’s two newest coaches

  • Curt Martens on the sidelines of an offseason pickup game with Conant, alongside Madeline Garland. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Josh Smith Courtesy photo—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, August 02, 2017 11:18PM

ConVal will go into the fall sports season with two new soccer coaches, as Josh Smith will take over the boys’ team and Curt Martens will head up the girls’ team. Smith coached the JV team last year while Martens coached the South Meadow girls. We caught up with both of the new coaches to find out more of their soccer backgrounds and their approach to coaching.

All-time favorite soccer player?

Curt Martens: Steven Gerrard. As a lifelong Liverpool supporter, it doesn’t get any better than “Captain Fantastic.” Excellent passer, wicked strike on the ball, and a great ambassador for club, country, and the sport. He’s one of those players that elevates everyone on their team to play better just with his playing style and work rate.

Josh Smith: Andres Iniesta. I chose Iniesta because as a center midfielder he has knack for controlling the ebb and flow of a game with creative passing, intuition, and inventiveness. His understanding of the game is on another level, he always knows when to pass, when to dribble, and consistently makes the right play.

My favorite thing about Iniesta is that he has always played a critical role in the success of Spain and Barcelona while being selfless and a tremendous team player.

Favorite playing memory?

Martens: It isn’t one specific moment, more of a complete childhood experience. My twin brother Eric and I played incessantly four seasons a year alongside our best friends who to this day I still see all the time, play and watch soccer with. We played in the rain or sun, through leaf piles, frozen ground, and mud. Carried our soccer balls with us to school each day so we could play at recess and wore soccer shorts underneath our pants so we didn’t have to waste time changing before hopping onto the pitch. Most of my shirts were soccer jerseys or Cougar Sport Camp shirts from attending every session that Brett and Spencer LeFlem put on. My whole childhood is remembered going to and from playing soccer.

Smith: My favorite playing memory was growing up playing for my dad for many years. Those memories had a significance on me during my playing career, and now as a coach I find myself doing a lot of the same things for my players that my dad had done for me.

Proudest coaching achievement to date?

Martens: Taking the SMS girls soccer team to the state championship this year. The whole season was a blast but those final three playoff games were unforgettable. We were playing Cawley who had soundly beaten us this season and even more so in the playoffs the previous season. The team kept saying “We can’t lose 17-0 to them again.” I always responded “Who’s talking about losing - we are going to win.” In the final moments before the whistle was going to blow for penalties, off a corner kick, Reagan Riffle knocked the ball off the side of her foot and into the back of the net. We lost 3-2 in the finals but the whole season was worth it for the emotion and celebration after that goal. Will be tough to top that but we are sure going to try to at ConVal.

Smith: My proudest coaching achievement is watching the players I’ve coached have success, not just in soccer, but in other aspects of their lives as well.

What’s the most important thing a player can do in the offseason?

Martens: Most important thing is to touch a ball and play soccer. Go pass, juggle, play pickup, kick a ball against a wall, anything to keep your touch. Running and working out is all well and good but to be a great soccer player you need to be able to control the ball at your foot like it’s second nature.

Smith: Be aware of their weaknesses and focus on improving those aspects of their game in preparation for tryouts. By improving on their weaknesses, they will come into tryouts ahead of the curve and it will put them in position to make a positive impact on the team.

Sum up your coaching style in three words:

Martens: Three words... Make smart decisions.

Smith: Involved, approachable, and driven. I don’t like to just sit on the sidelines, I want to be involved in the action doing whatever I can to help my players whether it is on the field, in the classroom, or in their personal lives. Being approachable allows me the chance to build trust with my players. Building trust with my players is very important because one of my primary goals as a coach is to help my players develop into successful young men on and off the field. Lastly, I am driven by the desire to be successful. The desire to be successful flows down to my players so as a group we are all driven towards excellence on a daily basis.