Information provided by Martin Luther College
NEW ULM — Martin Luther College men’s soccer Head Coach Paul Koelpin is stepping down from his coaching position after 27 seasons.
Koelpin is the only head coach in the history of the Martin Luther College men’s soccer program, coaching 26 of the last 27 on the sidelines and missing only the 1998 season when he took a sabbatical.
During his time as head coach, Koelpin recorded a 180-225-25 record and added numerous awards. He won Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors three times (2001, 2003, and 2017) and won two UMAC championships during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
The demands of the job (both in season and recruiting), on top of his teaching load (three courses each semester), became a challenge to Koelpin in recent seasons and led to his decision to step away.
“The older I get, the more difficult it has become to function in the competitive environment that is college soccer,” Koelpin said. “It is a challenge to manage the physical, mental, and emotional demands of the game.”
Koelpin, who first picked up soccer as a college player in the early 1980s, considers himself an accidental coach who never imagined he would become a coach at all, let alone stand on the sidelines for this long. He also believes the future is bright for the MLC soccer program with a team that finished the season with four straight wins.
“MLC soccer has a very solid core returning for next season,” he said. “The team is poised to be very competitive, I think. The players will benefit from a new voice and some new energy, and there is a plan in place as Knight soccer moves to the future. The Betty Kohn Fieldhouse will also be a real bonus for off-season training and work on artificial turf.”
MLC Director of Athletics Jim Unke is thankful for Koelpin’s years of service.
“After his 27 years of coaching, I am happy for Paul,” Unke said. “He has been a great asset to MLC men’s soccer and our conference (the UMAC). He always had teams that reflected the purpose of athletics, competitiveness, and sportsmanship here at MLC.”
When asked to look back on his tenure as coach, Koelpin remembers the players he coached and the blessings he believes come from being a part of athletics at MLC.
“Truthfully, MLC soccer is not about me,” Koelpin said. “I have no real legacy. I haven’t played a single minute of Knight soccer on the pitch. I have no stats–no goals, assists, or saves. Players play the game. I’ve been very blessed to coach many young men who have rallied together to form competitive teams. That is a credit to their character. And, honestly, never underestimate the value of having the entire team share a common faith in Christ. That is a real bonus for MLC athletics. In that regard, I hope that former players will have a charitable memory of my role as coach.”
Koelpin will continue his role as a professor at MLC, where he teaches general education and elective courses in the area of Western Civilization, and a seminar course in historiography.
MLC will have a separate announcement of the next men’s soccer head coach in the near future.