Michael Siener said the past two weeks have been some of the most exciting of his life. Two weekends ago, he celebrated his 35th birthday and got engaged. Then, on Tuesday, Nov. 27, he officially became the fifth head coach in Webster University men’s soccer program history.
Siener takes over for Marty Todt — now the men’s soccer associate head coach — who spent the last 25 years as the Gorloks’ head coach. Siener announced the role reversal to the men’s soccer team on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Todt accumulated a 230-189-50 overall record during his quarter-century as head coach. Siener became the men’s soccer associate head coach two years ago after a 10-year stint as assistant men’s basketball coach from 2001 to 2011.
Siener is also the men’s and women’s tennis head coach, and will continue to coach those teams until further notice. He said his previous experience will guide him in his newest position.
“It means being able to be more involved,” Siener said. “Being able to maybe structure practices and decide on how we structure games and the ins and outs of practices, those kind of decisions, we made them as a staff — and we’ll still make them as a staff — but I think it’s more exciting that those decisions will be made by me and Marty.
“With coaching tennis, I was able to get some experience as a head coach. That will help me also. Coaching basketball for (10) seasons helped me as well. I was an assistant for some great coaches who allowed me to get really involved. I hope all that experience helps me as the head men’s soccer coach.”
Siener’s path to soccer head coach
Siener is a 2000 Webster graduate and played soccer, tennis, basketball and baseball during his time as a Gorlok athlete.
“I always had a passion for those four sports,” Siener said. “I really love those four sports, and coaching sports is always something I’ve had a passion for doing.”
In 2001, Siener became an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team, which was then headed by Dave Kaneshiro. Current head coach Chris Bunch took over the program in 2002. Siener served under Kaneshiro and then Bunch until 2011.
It was in spring 2011, however, when Siener applied for the open Fontbonne University men’s basketball coaching position. Siener was a finalist for the job but
decided to withdraw from the running.
“I just wanted to look into that area and see if that’s something that I wanted to pursue,” Siener said. “Deciding to stay here and move into soccer was probably the best decision I’ve made. Webster’s been great to me as a student, athlete and as a coach. I’ve had a lot of opportunities and a lot of successes here. So, the move into the soccer program couldn’t have worked any better for my future and my plans to head coach.”
In fall 2011, Siener transitioned into his new role as associate head coach of the Webster men’s soccer team. Webster Director of Athletics Tom Hart said Siener was interested in being the head coach of a team sport.
“Realizing the value in the great work that Mike does, it would be good to make sure that we kept Mike around,” Hart said. “I think we were hoping that we could keep him. He’s a valuable piece of our department, and we wanted to try to find a way to keep him around. Getting him involved in another team sport was part of that plan.”
Siener has been the men’s and women’s tennis coach since 2006. However, he said he was at a point in his career to pursue a new head coaching position when he applied for the Fontbonne job. Ultimately, he became the men’s soccer associate head coach.
“When it came down to it a few years ago, I was ready to make the next step and be a head coach,” Siener said. “I was already doing tennis but tried to pursue either basketball or soccer. At that time, that’s kind of why I was looking into some basketball spots and soccer. It made sense at that time in my career to make that move here to find a head basketball job or head soccer job.
“Staying here and working with Marty, I figured at some point that would be my biggest chance to be a head coach. That was kind of my decision moving over to the soccer part.”
‘I really don’t see much changing at all,’ Todt says
Todt recently finished his 25th season as the head coach of the Webster men’s soccer program. He helped lead the team to five NCAA tournament appearances, including one in the 2012 season.
On Nov. 26, Todt was named an inductee to the Webster Athletics Hall of Fame, and he said the past two weeks have made him feel excited and humble. Todt said it was his decision to step into the associate head coach role. Even with the title change, he feels there won’t be too much change in the way the men’s soccer program is run.
“As far as the coaching change, I really don’t see much changing at all,” Todt said. “I think Mike and I have a great working relationship. I think it’s going to give him an opportunity to be able to step into an area that is just going to get him to grow even more. We’re both on the same page. It’s a great relationship. We both have the same goals. We really want to take the program to the next level.”
Hart said the athletics department didn’t want to lose Todt’s leadership and experience after 25 years.
“The biggest piece is that Marty has always brought to the table his expertise and work on the field,” Hart said. “Having 25 years of head coaching experience, he can provide some ideas and directions in some things to consider for Mike as a new head coach at a team sport.
“In addition to the fact that he’s done such a great job for 25 years, he’s got all sorts of energy. We want to make sure that we’re able to honor his expertise and things that he does. We don’t want to lose him. He’s part of the program. I think there’s a considerable advantage to having Marty still with the program.”
Todt said Siener’s new role would be positive and Siener would help move the program in the right direction.
“I think this is pretty much kind of the last piece of the puzzle,” Todt said. “He stands in one spot, I stand in the other spot and we just switch spots. I think we still work together.”
Up next for Siener, Todt and the program
Even as the newest men’s soccer head coach, Siener said he doesn’t expect too much change in the program either. He will still work on recruiting, but now he will have more of a say in how practices are structured or how games are coached.
“The last two years we’ve (Siener and Todt) been coaching, we’ve done it together,” Siener said. “It hasn’t been, ‘Hey, I’m in charge and you’re not’ kind of relationship. Marty is a great person to work for. He lets you get involved in all the decision-making and everything. He’s the associate head coach, and we do a lot of this stuff together. I don’t think there’s going to be any change or any difficulty for him or me with just the title change.”
Todt, who coached Siener during his time as a Webster soccer player, said Siener and he have made a team effort to coach the men’s soccer team.
“He’ll come to me with different things that he sees in regards to players, field positions, attitudes, demeanors, and we’ll kind of play off of each other,” Todt said. “It’s been really a great working relationship. I think it’s only going to continue to get better.”
Siener said he doesn’t foresee any immediate change in how the program will be run, but he will assess the program as the next season approaches.
“I’ve been spending the last two months recruiting pretty heavily,” Siener said. “As we get into the spring and summer, Marty and I will continue to meet and talk about what we’re going to do. We’re losing 13 guys. So, bringing in a lot of new guys and new faces will sometimes dictate what we do or how we do things.”
As he transitions into his new post, Siener said what he learned most from his time under Todt was Todt’s passion for coaching.
“He’s very unselfish,” Siener said. “That’s the kind of stuff I learned is most important. Sometimes you get caught up as a coach or player in statistics or awards. That’s why it’s going to be an easy transition as he and I continue to work together.
“It’s always been about the team. ‘Twenty-eight guys,’ he says that all the time at every practice. It’s always been about every single guy on the team, from the first guy to the last guy. Some coaches say that, but he truly believes that. Being around him, you can totally tell that. That’s the main thing I will take away and continue to be like him in that sense.”