Mike Getman has seen his dream of a UAB soccer program that would compete for conference titles and NCAA Tournament berths come true.
Getman, now in his 23rd season as UAB's head coach, has led the Blazers to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including a spot in the Elite Eight in 1999 and Sweet 16 in 2001. Additionally, he has led UAB teams to six regular season and tournament championships and has been selected the conference coach of the year on three different occasions.
Last season, UAB appeared in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Poll for 12 consecutive weeks and was ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation. The Blazers led the country in scoring, recording 2.39 goals per game in 2013. For the fifth-straight year, UAB won at least 10 matches, as the squad went 12-5-1.
The fans came out in bunches to see the 2013 UAB men's soccer team at West Campus Field, as the squad ranked No. 39 in the country in average home attendance. An average of 968 people attended the Blazers' home matches last season.
For the fourth time since 2003, UAB finished in the top 50 in the nation in average attendance. 3,205 people, a West Campus Field regular-season record, watched the Blazers defeat 2012 national champion Indiana, 2-1 in overtime, on Friday, Sept. 6. In addition, 1,776 people, the 10th-best crowd in facility history, came out to watch UAB play Charlotte to a 0-0 draw in the UAB "Soccer for a Cure" Classic on Friday, Sept. 1.
The 2012 season proved to be another solid campaign, as the Blazers earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, marking the second straight year the team has played in the national tournament. It marked the third time in program history that the Green and Gold played in the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons. The Blazers finished the season with a 10-8-2 mark, the fourth year in-a-row with at least 10 victories.
In all, it is a far cry from when Getman accepted the job of turning the Blazer program around. He inherited a program in 1992 that had just three winning records in its first 13 seasons.
Getman set goals for the program and Blazer fans know that many of those original goals have been met or exceeded. Consider the following:
- The Blazers have won 243 matches since 1993 for an average of more than 11 wins per season.
- Seven trips to the NCAA Tournament - 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2012 (The Elite Eight in `99 and Sweet 16 in `01).
- Six conference titles, including four regular-season championships (C-USA in `95, `99 and `11 and Great Midwest in `94) and two conference tournament championship crowns (C-USA in `99 and Great Midwest in `94).
- The Blazers have been ranked in the national poll in 18 of the last 20 seasons, including a highest ranking of No. 3 in 2003 and highest finish of eighth in 1999.
- Defeated three No. 1-ranked teams in SMU (2006), North Carolina (2000), and UCLA (1997).
- Victories over traditional national powers and ranked teams, such as No. 8 Indiana and No. 24 VCU in 2013; No. 20 Washington in 2012; No. 6 UCF and No. 15 SMU in 2011; No. 10 UIC and No. 13 Kentucky in 2009; No. 3 Indiana in 2007; No. 1 SMU and No. 17 Kentucky in 2006; No. 11 USF in 2004; No. 3 Saint Louis, No. 9 USF, No. 13 Furman (twice), and No. 20 South Carolina in 2001; No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Furman in 2000; No. 2 Saint Louis (twice), No. 5 Southwest Missouri State, No. 17 SMU, and No. 18 Santa Clara, all in 1999; and No. 1 UCLA in 1997.
- 116 all-conference honorees.
- Six conference Newcomer of the Year awards.
- The building of a top-flight soccer facility on campus, West Campus Field. The facility attracts large crowds for not only UAB matches, but serves as a site for international soccer events. The Blazers became the first collegiate program to ever compete against the U.S. National Team in March 2000. UAB has won more than 70 percent of all its matches at WCF.
- Getman is the winningest coach in Conference USA history with a record 92 league wins.
- More than 100 conference academic honor roll members over the last 20 years.
- Four Academic All-Americans.
With all of those accomplishments, Getman is not satisfied. "We want to be a national contender every year," he said. "We play in one of the toughest conferences in the nation, Conference USA, and we feel that our schedule helps us to prepare for postseason play."
In 2005, Getman was named the C-USA Coach of the Decade for his accomplishments during his coaching tenure at UAB. Furthermore, Getman has been named conference Coach of the Year three times.
He holds a 289-174-44 (.613) mark in 26 seasons as a head coach and a 247-149-35 (.614) record in 22 seasons at UAB. Even more impressive is the total of 116 all-conference selections he has coached at UAB.
From 2008-11, Getman served on the NCAA Men's Soccer Committee. He also played a large part in bringing the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Men's College Cup to Birmingham.
Furthermore, Getman is ranked among college soccer's top men's active coaches (34th in winning percentage and 18th in victories). The 23-year coaching veteran also ranks among the winningest coaches in NCAA Division I soccer history, ranking 46th all-time in victories. Getman is among a handful of coaches who both played for and coached a team to the NCAA College Cup, accomplishing the feat twice as a player and once as a coach.
Getman's players' successes extend off the field as well. Over 90 percent of student-athletes who have played four years during his tenure as head coach completed their degree requirements. He now boasts more than 100 C-USA honor roll members (3.0 GPA or above), 23 C-USA academic medal of honor recipients (3.75 GPA or above) and four academic All-Americans.
Getman has further improved his already impressive academic standards over the past few years, as three Blazers have been tabbed the C-USA Scholar Athlete of the Year, with all three honorees coming over the last nine seasons (Lukasz Kwapisz in 2004, Jeremy Drake in 2006 and Wes Johnson in 2008).
In fact, in 2006, Drake was tabbed the league's Scholar Athlete of the Year for men's soccer, while Lukasz Kwapisz earned the post-graduate scholarship award for men's soccer. The duo were the only UAB student-athletes to earn the prestigious awards in any sport.
UAB fans have responded to the program's winning ways as home attendance average at West Campus Field over the past few years is close to 1,000. In 2003, UAB was 16th in the nation in average attendance (1,077/game) and 25th in the nation in total attendance (7,545). During the 2006 campaign, UAB ranked 31st in average attendance (853/game) and 43rd in total attendance (5,972). In 2009, UAB ranked 48th in total attendance (6,779).
In 2011, the Blazers had three of the top-10 crowds in West Campus Field history. The Blazers opened the 2011 campaign against Clemson in front of 3,141 fans, who witnessed the 2-1 UAB victory. The Green & Gold also played in front of 2,214 fans for the NCAA Tournament second round contest against Charlotte and 1,235 fans to the first-ever soccer match played at Regions Park (Hoover, Ala.) when the Blazers took on Memphis. Those crowds rank among the top in program history.
The Blazers finished the 2011 season with a perfect 4-0 record against top-25 teams. UAB closed the year ranked No. 21 in the nation according to the National Soccer Coaches Associate of America (NSCAA) with a 13-5-3 mark. The Blazers finished C-USA play with a 6-1-1 record and a share of the regular season title.
In 2009, a West Campus Field record crowd of 3,481 witnessed UAB's 3-0 exhibition victory over Clemson. Even though that match did not count in the Blazers' overall record, it served as a catalyst for the rest of the year and what was to come. Getman guided his 2009 squad to a 12-4-2 overall record, including road victories over No. 10 UIC (3-1) and No. 13 Kentucky (1-0). Despite the disappointment in missing the NCAA Tournament, Getman still managed to reach the 10-win plateau for the 14th time in his 18 seasons as head coach at UAB.
Prior to the 2011 season, the Blazers last reached the NCAA Tournament in 2006, which capped a stretch of four NCAA Tournament appearances over an eight-year span. The campaign was highlighted when previously undefeated and then-No. 1-ranked SMU invaded West Campus Field. In front of a then-record crowd of 2,755 fans, the Blazers stunned the Mustangs, 2-1, to set off an impressive run of 3-0-2 to end the campaign. UAB also defeated No. 10 Notre Dame (1-0), No. 16 South Carolina (3-2), No. 18 Kentucky (1-0/ot) and No. 24 UNC Greensboro (3-2) during the season.
In 1999, the Blazers began the most successful three-year stretch in UAB men's soccer history by advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals. The Blazers won both the Conference USA regular season and tournament championships, finished eighth in the final NSCAA national poll and posted a 17-6 overall record. The Blazers set the school record for wins in a season and had a school record 13-match winning streak.
In 2000, the Blazers fell to Washington in a four-overtime match that was arguably the most exciting NCAA Tournament match ever played. It was UAB's first appearance in the tournament as an at-large team and the first back-to-back appearance in school history. UAB would finish that year 14-5-2 overall mark and a 5-1-2 record in C-USA play.
In 2001, UAB made a third consecutive trip to the NCAAs. The Blazers opened tournament play with a 1-0 overtime victory over Furman, then defeated region hosts South Carolina, 3-2, to earn a trip to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years. Despite dropping a 3-2 double overtime heartbreaker to Clemson, UAB finished 15-6, runner-up in C-USA, and set a school record with nine players selected to all-conference teams.
Getman came to Birmingham from Harvard, where he was head coach from 1987-91. During his time at the Cambridge, Mass., school, his teams posted a 42-26-9 (.604) record, including a 21-11-3 (.643) mark in Ivy League play. In his first season at Harvard, he led his team to the 1987 NCAA Final Four, as the Crimson went 14-1-3 and captured the Ivy League title. He became the youngest coach (28) to lead a team to the Division I Final Four. The following season, Harvard was ranked No. 1 for the first time in the school's history. While at Harvard, Getman developed 21 All-Ivy League players, nine All-New England performers and two All-Americans.
He started his coaching career at his alma mater, Indiana, where he served as an assistant coach from 1984-86. In those three seasons, the Hoosiers were in the NCAA Tournament twice and played in the 1984 title game.
Getman played professionally as a defender for the Detroit Express of the American Soccer League from 1982-83. He was the team's Rookie of the Year in 1982, as the Express won the ASL championship.
A three-year letterwinner at Indiana, he played fullback for the Hoosiers from 1977-81, during which time IU finished as an NCAA Division I national finalist in 1978 and 1980.
A native of Bloomington, Ind., he earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Indiana in 1982 and his master's in athletic administration from IU in 1987.
Involved in all facets of soccer, Getman has been South Region coach for the U.S. Soccer Festival. He was the chairman of the soccer games committee for the 1996 Birmingham Olympic Soccer Committee. He has also served as a guest columnist on the 1998 World Cup Tournament for the Birmingham Post-Herald.
He and his wife, Rena, reside in Homewood. They have three children, Nathan (20), Eli (15), and Ethan (14).