Chat Live with Mark Francis!

2004 Big 12 Soccer Coach of the Year, Mark Francis, will participate in a live chat on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 12:30 p.m. The Jayhawks opened Big 12 play on Friday with a 1-0 victory over Baylor before dropping a close 3-2 match to #14 Texas A&M on Sunday.

In his seventh season at the helm of the Jayhawks soccer program, Francis holds a 80-50-7 record at KU and is 113-74-8 all-time. KU has reached the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four seasons, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2003. The Jayhawks are the defended Big 12 co-champions.

Bryan Hallenbeck Ankeny , Iowa: What has been your biggest win atKansas and when will KU be able tocompete with the national soccerpowers.

Mark Francis: Probably the win over Missouri that took us to the Sweet 16 in 2003.

I think we are already doing that. We are playing teams in the Top 10 and Top 5 and competing with them. It is only a matter of time with our recruiting for 2006 and 2007 we are going to be up there competing with those guys and beating those guys in the next couple of years.

Bob (Omaha, Neb.): You have been playing a lot of freshman this season. How do you feel about their performance this season?
Mark Francis: The freshmen have done an outstanding job. Collectively as a group all six of them have made the adjustment very quickly to the speed of play at the Division One level and the intensity they have to bring everyday which is different for most of them coming from their club environment.
Jeff (Colorado Springs): Coach, you seem to be recruiting a lot of girls out of the state of Colorado. How did you create a pipeline to this state and how are you maintaining it?

Mark Francis: We have been very fortunate and got a lot of very good players out of Colorado. The first three years we couldn’t get any, we couldn’t even get them to visit. Then all of a sudden we got a couple in the fourth year and since than we get a lot of interest.

Part of it is the kids that come here are having a good experience. They are enjoying it, they like the University, the athletic department and playing on our soccer team.

They are experiencing a good, positive situation and are going back and telling the kids in their club about it and that is how you maintain that pipeline.

Ray (Topeka): As a youth soccer coach of ages 7-10, what one tip would you give to instill in my players?
Mark Francis: Work with the ball as much as they can. At that age they need to work on their technique. The more time they spend with the ball the better their technique is going to be.
Lori (Topeka): Hi coach! I really enjoy when the Jayhawks come to Topeka, but I was wondering what type of stress that added to you and your team. Also, is there any talk about a new facility for you in the future?
Mark Francis: Moving games to Topeka is not what you want to do. It takes away the home field advantage. Our guys love playing on our field because it is a big advantage for us. It is in the plans to get a new facility in the near future. In the mean time we will have to deal with what we got and make the best of it.
Lance (Lawrence): Is this the strongest the Big 12 has been since you arrived at KU?
Mark Francis: This might possibly be the best Big 12 since I’ve been here. I think it is because the bottom of the conference has got a lot better. The teams at the top have always been good now the teams at the bottom are a lot more competitive.
Thomas (Kansas City): Coach Francis–First, congrats on last year’s Big 12 Championship. What did you tell the team after last Sunday’s heartbreaking loss and how do you think they will respond?
Mark Francis: I told them that was the best 90-minute game we put together and those are the type of games that can go either way. If we can maintain that type of intensity and bring it to every game we are going to win a lot more games this year. I told them they should be very proud how they played.
Kevin (Garden City, Kan.): Coach, you guys have started a lot of freshmen this season. What is the best and hardest part of having such a young team?
Mark Francis: The best part about having such a young team is they bring a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy. The toughest part is experience wise, not being in big game situations before. Not having played at this level and the speed of play. They are getting the hang of that and obviously the freshmen have played a lot so they are getting the experience in big games.
Rob (Omaha): What needs to happen for soccer to catch on in America?
Mark Francis: I think soccer has already caught on. At the youth level the number of participants is huge. Once some of the youths that played the game become parents you will continue to see it catch on more and more. That is not in the too distant future.
Willy (Springfield): Who has the best college soccer facility in the Midwest and in the entire country?
Mark Francis: The best one I’ve seen is Notre Dame. In the country it could be Portland. Portland’s is just soccer specific and has an enclosed stadium all the way around the field. It is awesome.

Brecken (Overland Park): Coach, late congrats on winning Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Some teams schedule ‘easy’ non-conference games. However, you seem to play top programs. What is your non-conference scheduling philosophy?

Mark Francis: Non-conference we try to play the best teams available. You don’t find out anything against teams you are going to beat 6-0. The only way you find out about your team is playing against someone that is going to put you under some pressure. Also to get ranked in the post season you have to play good competition in order for your RPI to be high.
Rolly (Edina): Coach Francis- I watched Caroline Smith play her last few years up here and wondered if you saw the success that she has had coming and what you expect her future after college to be? Also how do you look to replace her next season?
Mark Francis: I’m not sure what Caroline’s plans are after school. I know she wants to go to med school. Also, there are talks about the women’s league coming back. If it does I’m sure she would think about doing that. It depends on her school situation and what she wants to do with that. Right now, I’m sure what she is thinking about is helping KU do the best they can in her last year. It will be very tough to replace someone like Caroline.
Rob (Lawrence): Coach–My son went to your Wee Kicks soccer camp this past summer for the first time. He was one of the youngest participants and had a great time. Is there an age when kids should take soccer serious or should we just let them go out and have fun?
Mark Francis: Depends on what you mean by that. It should always be fun. Hopefully if you asked our college players they would say they are having fun playing. As far as what age to take it seriously, once you get into high school or maybe even middle school, figure out one or two sports you really like if you have ambitions of playing in college. But prior to 8th-9th grade I think kids should play as many sports as they can.

Kathy (Lawrence): As a KU soccer follower the past two seasons, is there any more we as fans should be doing on the other side during games?


Mark Francis: Bring five friends with you to the game. If you do that we will get a lot more people. Spread the word. The games are exciting.
Jason (Kansas City): Does your team get up more for A&M, Nebraska and Missouri than Texas Tech and Iowa State? How do you get them focused on the latter teams?
Mark Francis: Any athlete is certain in the back of their mind that the other team is going to be ready to play. Our challenge right now is to have the same focus regardless of who our opponent is. It is our job to get the team ready no matter who we play.

Sarah (Lawrence): As defending Big 12 champs and having played league games already, do you feel there is more pressure on your team this season? Are teams out to get KU? How hard is it to defend the title?


Mark Francis: There definitely is an extra pressure there whether you put it on yourself or not. It is tough to repeat as a champion at any level. It means for us we have to be that much more prepared and ready to play and do the little things that have enablde us to become a Big 12 champion.
Jeff (Olathe): You have a lot of great state and local kids on the team. What is the key to getting the KC area and state players to come to KU?
Mark Francis: When I first came here, KU had never recruited the local kids. The first key for us was getting Amy Geha, Stacy Leeper and Monica Brothers. They came in and made a huge impact. Once we got those three the other kids that came the following year knew who they were and they chose KU over some of the other competition and that just snowballed from there. Now, if they are a good kid in the Kansas area that we are interested in we have a good chance of getting them.
Jack (Lawrence): Why do goalies wear different colors?
Mark Francis: Because they are the only ones that can use there hands. You have to differentiate who they are for the referees benefit.
Blair (Lenexa): How do you decide which players outside the Kansas/Missouri area you’re going to recruit and how do you get them to come to KU? For instance, how did you get Caroline Smith to come here all the way from Minnesota?

Mark Francis: We look for the best ones and we go after them. As we’ve gotten better we’ve attracted a lot more quality players. A lot of it is positional what your needs are for the coming years.

We saw her play, asked her to come visit and she liked it and obviously ended up coming and doing very well. As we get better I think we’ll attract more high-quality student-athletes to the University of Kansas and our soccer program.

” border=”0″> spacer.gif Moderator: That is all the questions for today. Thank you for your participation.
Mark Francis: Thanks for your questions. It is good to know you guys are thinking about what is going on with the Kansas soccer program. We look forward to seeing you out at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex on Oct. 7th and 9th and bring some friends.