Building a Tradition

Mike Getman has built the UAB Soccer program into one of the very best in the nation. He came to UAB in 1992. Since that time the Blazers have had eight consecutive winning seasons, have won three conference championships, have played three times in the NCAA Championships, and this past season finished as the # 15 team in the nation. Along the way the Blazers defeated some of the country's best teams.

2000 was a very good year for the Blazers. Some of the highlights were a 2-1 win over #1 ranked North Carolina, a 2-1 win at #6 Furman, 11 straight games without a loss, and a second straight trip to the NCAA playoffs. UAB also finished the year undefeated at home going 6-0-2. The Blazers were finally eliminated from the NCAA Championships in a four overtime 1-0 loss at Washington.

Senior defender Rumba Munthali was honored as an All-American and will play in the Senior All-Star game. Goalkeeper, David Clemente was selected as The Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. He was also selected to the All-South Team and will play in the Senior All-Star game. Midfielder Roberto Najarro has already been offered professional contracts as well as being selected All-Conference USA.

1999 saw UAB play a long string of top ranked teams. It started with a 3-1 win over UNC-Charlotte and a 2-1 win over UNC-Greensboro. Then came a 3-2 overtime win over #2 ranked St. Louis. Then a 3-2 win over #25 Cincinnati on the road. That was followed by a 4-0 win over South Florida and a 4-0 win over St. Louis for the second time in the season. The Blazers finished the regular season as Conference USA Champions and also won the C-USA Tournament.

Entering the NCAA Tournament UAB faced undefeated and #5 ranked Southwest Missouri State. A 2-1 win sent the Blazers on the road to # 10 ranked SMU. This 2-0 win was even more convincing as the Blazers played most of the game with only 10 men. The season finally came to an end as UAB lost in overtime to Santa Clara 3-2. For most teams getting to the QuarterFinals would be very satisfying. This team was disappointed as they felt they had perhaps the best team in the country.

The team set many records along the way. Peter Byaruhanga had the longest goal-scoring streak in over 30 years. He scored in 14 consecutive games and finished the season with 19 goals in 20 games. UAB also had the longest winning streak in the nation until Santa Clara snapped it at 13 games. The Blazers ranked 4th in the nation in scoring averaging 3.1 goals per game.

Flavio Monteiro was named the C-USA freshman of the year making the 5th time in 7 years that a UAB player has won this award. Peter Byaruhanga was named the C-USA Player of the Year. The first time any Blazer was so named. Coach Getman was named C-USA Coach of the Year for the third time.

This amazing year was just one of a recent string of very good seasons. In 1998 UAB beat #11 UNC-Charlotte (2-1) along with strong wins over Marquette, Vanderbilt, the Univ. of California, Hartford and many others. In 1997 UAB defeated eventual National Champion and #1 ranked UCLA (2-0), defeated #14 ranked UNC-Charlotte (1-0), and defeated North Carolina (1-0). In 1996 the Blazers tied #4 Indiana (1-1), defeated St. Louis (2-1), and beat the College of Charleston (4-2). In 1995 the Blazers beat # 21 UNC-Charlotte (1-0) and tied St.Louis (0-0). In 1994 UAB defeated #7 N.C. State (1-0), # 3 St. Louis (4-0), and #23 Marquette (5-1). In the last seven years the Blazers have had a record of 93-41-6. During this time Mike Getman has been named the Conference "Coach of the Year" three times. UAB is now the most winning team in Conference USA history.

The Blazers have also had many players receive national recognition. In fact UAB has had more players receive All-Conference honors than any other team in C-USA. Five of the last eight Freshman of the Year have been Blazers, showing Coach Getman's keen eye for talent. Five Blazers are currently playing professional soccer.

Before coming to UAB, Mike Getman led his Harvard team to the NCAA "Final Four". A program that had not won the Ivy title in 17 years did so in Getman's first season. The team finished the year undefeated losing only in the National Semifinal in penalty kicks. At the age of 28, Mike Getman was the youngest coach in NCAA history to lead his team to the Division I "Final Four". Coach Getman's second year saw the team ranked #1 in the Nation for the first time in school history.

It is no wonder Mike Getman is known as "the program builder". He has taken two programs, both with a history of little success and brought them quickly to the top. His UAB team now attracts the top players from around the country. This year's squad includes seven players with National Youth Team experience.

Success has not only been on the field. In twelve years as a head coach, every single player who has played four years for Mike Getman has completed his degree. The current team carries an average GPA of 3.0.

The fans have noticed what is going on and have been attending Blazer games in large numbers. Average attendance has been near the 1000 mark with big games being seen by over 2000. These figures have led to construction of a new stadium for UAB, which saw its first action in 1998. The old seating capacity of 840 has been expanded to 2300.

As a player, Mike Getman played twice in the NCAA "Final Four" with Indiana. As a coach he has been in two NCAA "Final Fours". Making him one of only a very few coaches who has played and coached in the "Finals". He also played professional soccer with the Detroit Express winning the Championship his first year while being named the team's rookie of the year.