For the past quarter of a century, Cal Poly has fielded an NCAA women’s soccer team.
During all 25 years of intercollegiate women’s soccer, Alex Crozier has patrolled the sidelines as head coach.
Crozier started his career as a Mustang as an undergraduate civil engineering student at Cal Poly. While he was a student he played for the Cal Poly soccer team and coached the women’s club team. When he graduated in 1984, he moved to the Bay Area but returned in 1992 to lead Cal Poly’s women’s soccer team as it broke into the NCAA ranks. Since then, he’s led his team to 11 conference championship titles, won 100 conference games and has seen two of his players sign with professional soccer teams. Crozier said that he’s seen players go in many different directions after graduation.
“We’ve had a lot of success with athletes coming through here,” Crozier said. “I actually had a player come through here as a biological science undergrad, ended up graduating with a degree in history, and now she’s a nun. I have a picture in my office of her in a habit with a soccer ball.”
No matter who comes through Crozier’s program, his players always have an enormous amount of respect for him. Sophomore forward Michaela Olney finds that he offers more than just leadership for the players that come through the program.
“It’s honestly really rewarding because he is such a strong person and a strong coach,” Olney said. “He is just all around a really intelligent person. So being under his leadership just teaches you a lot about soccer but also life lessons at the same time.”
Senior midfielder Breanna Rittmann echoed the same feeling, saying that she’s had supportive coaches in her career and Crozier, her coach for the past five years, is no exception.
“He is my third major coach I’ve ever had,” Rittmann said. “I’ve had a great youth coach, a great club coach, and now I have coach Al [Crozier], and all of those coaches have been a positive influence in my life. They’ve supported me and lifted me up.”
In addition to the players, Crozier’s assistant coaches also look up to him.
“He has the ability to delegate and to trust his assistants in a manner that is very rare,” associate head coach Bernardo Silva said. “I think it has to do with 25 years of experience as head of the program. He also has the ability to hire successful and really quality coaches.”
Crozier also excels in effectively communicating his ideas to his players, using metaphors and analogies to convey plays and drills to
“[Crozier] is unique through his metaphors,” Rittmann said. “He’s the most metaphorical coach I’ve ever had. He’ll do drills and explain them as if they were the Hunger Games.”
Olney said the metaphors not only improve her soccer skills but can be applied to life in general.
For Crozier, there’s always a reason for his unique approach to coaching.
“You know, you can do a lot [of] talking and [have] a picture in your own head of what you want it to look like,” Crozier said. “But you need to convey what’s in your head out to people. So for me, analogies are a way to do that, just painting a picture. It’s giving them an idea of what it is we are trying to do and what it looks like so you know when you get there.”
Crozier does not use overarching phrases such as “Get organized” or “Work harder” because, as he pointed out, “How do you know you’ve gotten there?”
For the foreseeable future, Crozier and his metaphors will be sticking around Cal Poly. He loves the quality of life in San Luis Obispo and calling the Central Coast home.
“You come to realize there’s no place like San Luis Obispo,” Crozier said. “But it’s just a special place between the location, the weather, great academics, you know, we have a great soccer program and it’s just a nice place to live. I’ve been to a lot of places in the United States and across the world and there’s very few if any I would compare to here.”