It was a whirlwind day for John Trask.
After spending five seasons at the helm of the Illinois-Chicago Flames men’s soccer team, Trask was announced Wednesday as the new head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers.
Despite the hectic nature of his day, Trask was happy to be back in Madison.
“It’s been a great day,” he said. “I’m a Wisconsin native — I grew up in Milwaukee — so this is a dream come true. I’ve been getting texts all day from people in Milwaukee — old, old friends that I didn’t even know had my cell phone number, so yeah, it’s pretty awesome.”
While the men’s basketball team may have stolen his thunder with a thrilling 54-48 victory, Trask’s arrival in Madison meant a lot to the UW men’s soccer program.
First, it simply meant having a head coach again, which they had been without since Dec. 19, 2009. And considering the r?sum? Trask brings with him to the Wisconsin Badgers, the UW Athletic Department is excited about the future of the program.
“John’s coaching accomplishments and background make him a perfect fit for us,” athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “He has had tremendous success as a coach on the collegiate level as well as the professional level.”
“His familiarity with the Big Ten as both a player and assistant coach will be a great asset for our team,” he continued. “It’s a pleasure to be able to welcome him back to his native state and into the Badger family.”
Trask noted that he really enjoyed his time at UIC, but the fit for him and his family at Wisconsin was just too good to pass up. If it had been any other school, he would have been less likely to make the move.
In his younger years, Trask left the state to attend Indiana University from 1984-87. While he was there, the Milwaukee native played soccer for legendary IU head coach Jerry Yeagley, father of former UW head coach Todd Yeagley.
Trask has an extensive connection with the Yeagley family, having played for and coached with Jerry while also coaching Todd in high school and college. As a result, Trask was not shy about talking to the younger Yeagley as he considered the position.
“We go back a long, long way,” Trask said. “I guess I was fortunate maybe compared to some of the other people they were looking at because I knew a lot more of the specifics about how great this place could be because Todd was so excited about it.”
Trask continued by saying he did not think it necessarily gave him a leg up on the competition, but it gave him a better understanding of the program as a whole.
“If you’ve got a chance to go to Wisconsin, it’s a no-brainer basically,” Trask said.
In addition to coaching under Yeagley at IU, Trask has extensive experience as an assistant coach at the professional level.
For five years (2000-04) Trask was an assistant coach in Major League Soccer. He began with the Miami Fusion for two years before moving to D.C. United for another two. In his last year before taking the helm at UIC, Trask was an assistant for FC Dallas.
After coaching three teams in five years and another team for five more years, Trask believes his experience helps him adjust more quickly to a new environment, which should allow his players then to adjust more quickly as well.
“Like I was telling the guys today, I’ve had to walk into a lot of new locker rooms in my life,” Trask said. “I had to walk into an existing group of players and I had to adjust.”
Trask spoke of winning right away and making a run at the College Cup in the near future. He was cautious, however, not to suggest they would win a national championship in the next couple of years if the players worked hard enough.
“That was the challenge I put to the guys today — I’m not coming in here to build something five years down the line,” Trask said. “But, I don’t think you ever talk about ‘national championship or bust.’”
“You’ve got to look at it incrementally and you say, ‘hey, first we’ve got to get to the tournament, and we’ve got to figure out how to win in the tournament.’”
Based on his track record — three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament in his second, third and fourth years at UIC, including an Elite Eight appearance — Wisconsin fans would be justified in being as excited about Trask’s arrival as he is about being back in Madison.