For the past eight years, Joe Schulman has been an Indiana Wesleyan University assistant men’s soccer coach until recently being named interim head coach after Coach Mark Castro resigned.
Despite the adversity of changing head coaches, the team had a successful season, finishing with an 18-2-0 record, a Crossroads League Tournament Championship and a berth in the NAIA National Championship Tournament.
Schulman has encountered personal difficulties taking over as head coach, but has sought the Lord through both his own and the team’s trials.
“Coach Castro is one of my best friends and I came here to coach with him, but I’m not getting to coach with him now and personally it has been difficult,” Schulman said. “[Taking over as head coach] has taught me many lessons, and anytime we are tested, our faith is tested, or bad things happen to us, our immediate response needs to be worship.”
Keaton Albert (jr) said the journey of this season has been challenging.
“Personally I would say it’s been tough. It’s like taking a father figure out and putting a new one in with yet another relationship of trust,” Albert said. “However, [Coach Schulman] has done a great job of being personal yet also being a coach.”
According to Albert, Schulman has kept the integrity and culture Coach Castro created.
“He has taken what Coach Castro built and allowed it to grow instead of doing a complete 180,” Albert said. “When Coach Castro left, he left groundwork, but when Joe came in, he took that groundwork and made it even higher to what it could be, so everything spiritually, tactically, on the field and off the field has become a lot more professional.”
Schulman has also sustained Castro’s coaching styles and techniques while taking over as interim head coach.
“I had coached with [Castro] for eight years, so coaching wise I am very similar in personality and how I lead the team,” Schulman said. “Because I have been here on and off for eight years, they [the team] know me and I know them, so they haven’t had to relearn a different style of coaching.”
Coach Schulman lives in a townhouse on campus, allowing him to be even more involved in his player’s lives by spending time with them off the field as well. Schulman regularly eats at Baldwin Dining Room, attends chapel and goes to worship events such as The Well.
“It’s not really a ministry or anything intentional as much as we hang out a lot together and we share a life together during the season — we call it a brotherhood,” Schulman said. “I get to eat with them, have fun with them and grow with them on and off the field.”
Schulman encourages the team to maintain their vitality through spiritual strength and drawing closer to God. His number one goal is to develop spiritual discipline and to equip the players for what they will need when they leave IWU.
Evan Young (so) believes Schulman goes above and beyond by leading team devotions, worship events and as many other venues as he can think of.
“His focus has been to continually challenge us to press into God,” Young said. “We’ve been doing things as a team that will grow us spiritually and from that we have had the attitude to overcome our adversity.”
Schulman proposes team Bible readings where players read a chapter a day, everyday. They have gone through the books of John, Luke, 1 John, 2 John and 3 John and are currently on Ecclesiastes.
“When you don’t have somebody around that you thought you were going to have around all year who was leading your program, it becomes difficult,” Schulman said. “But by the grace of God and by the guys pushing in and buying into the spiritual disciplines, we’ve been able to have success and continue to succeed on the field because of, in my opinion, what we are doing off the field.”