Q & A With Women's Soccer Head Coach Joe Pereira And Senior Defender Melissa Futrell

October 19, 2005
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Oct. 19, 2005

In his 11 years as head coach of Old Dominion's women's soccer team, Joe Pereira (89-91-10 ODU Record) has won CAA coach of the year honors in both 1998 and 2005, captured his 200th career win just last year, and has established the program as a true powerhouse capable of knocking off both regional and nationally ranked foes.

A graduate student, playing in her fifth year as a Lady Monarch defender, Melissa Futrell has had to overcome a list of injuries in her quest to become captain of the women's soccer team. She has shown leadership on and off the field as she finishes up her last year of NCAA eligibility at her alma mater Old Dominion.

1. Joe - How did you first get involved in coaching women's soccer?

Joe - In 1983, in the infancy of the sport, I was assistant coach of men's soccer at Methodist College when the administration approached me to ask if I would take and start a women's soccer team at Methodist College. So I coached for 11 years there, then I was offered the job here at Old Dominion, and now I have been involved in coaching women for 32 years. I feel that women's soccer has come so far in such a short amount of time.

2. Mel - How did you get involved in the sport, when did you decide you wanted to play in the college level? What do you plan to do after college, any coaching opportunities?

Mel - When I was in seventh grade my friends asked me if I wanted to play in their indoor soccer league, I did, and I liked it. Tenth grade my high school coach talked to me about playing in college; she was the one that really turned me on to the idea. My club coach knew ODU Assistant Coach Ruth Keegan and introduced me and the rest is history. I would like to coach after college, particularly high school age.

3. Joe - Where do you hope to see your team a month from now?

Joe - In a month I would like to see the team in the CAA's. Right now it's a pretty tight race for the top of the CAA. After that I would like to see us in the NCAA's as well, which is a lot of soccer ahead of us but I think we are in very good position to do that.

4.Mel - What are your goals for the remainder of the season?

Mel - My goals are to push and continue to stay at the top of the league and to stick it to the teams that are above us by doing well against them. Our team has a lot left to play but ultimately I would like to see us go to the CAA tournament and do well.

5. Mel - How has your role on the team changed since you freshman year?

Mel - It has changed dramatically, during my freshman year I was out with an injury, a torn ACL, so basically when I wasn't sitting on the sidelines; I was shagging balls at practice. But as I got better my role on the team progressed through the past five years. Last year and this year has fortunately been major leader roles for me.

6. Joe and Mel - Any role models, past or present?

Joe - My college coach was absolutely instrumental in my makeup and my mentality as a coach. He was huge and so much of what I do is somewhat of a spin off of him.

Mel - I look up to my dad, he has really taught me about perseverance, he's the one who says "when then the going gets tough, the tough get going," and I really don't think that I would have been able to accomplish what I have in five years without him or my mom.

7. Joe - Have you been satisfied with your freshman recruits performance so far this year, any standouts?

Joe - Very much so, I think as a whole we've blended beautifully. All ten newcomers are very strong and ready to play, some have to be patient and wait their turn before they can play, but they all have good attitudes toward that. All ten of them are ready to step in and help the cause. Right now we are asking seven to play major roles and then three are sort of patiently waiting for their opportunity.

8. Joe and Mel - What do you enjoy in your leisure time?

Mel - I am very involved in my church's activities with little kids, mostly first through fifth graders. I enjoy cooking, eating what I cook, and spending time with my two huskies and my fiancé Jeff.

Joe - Mostly right now what I do is golf. I'm a big-time wannabe golfer. I just enjoy it immensely, it's a great challenge and it's just good to be out.

9. Joe and Mel - What was your favorite memory of ODU women's soccer?

Mel - My greatest memory was beating William and Mary this year and last year.

Joe - The effort and the results that we have had so far this year has been an absolute joy. I have enjoyed coaching more so than ever before. I would say the present is becoming my most memorable moment.

10. Joe and Mel - Any pregame rituals or superstitions you take part in before each match?

Mel - Well Sarah Raible, a former ODU player, had an old high school teammate pass away last year so all of the defenders and I wear tape on our wrist with the words "Just Play" written on it to remind us to just go out, play and have a good time, because not everyone gets that opportunity.

Joe - I guard against any of that stuff, because no one ever knows what unpredictable problems may occur. I will do certain things in preparation of games, but I don't mess with that "lucky this, lucky that" kind of stuff, I very much try to avoid it.

11. Joe and Mel - In all the places you have visited, where has been the most difficult field/complex you have played?

Joe - As a player the most intimidating I have ever played has got to be VMI or the Citadel. It was back in the seventies, I played for Appalachian State, and when we would visit these campuses back then, all the freshman and sophomore students were forced to attend all the soccer games. This was during the Iran conflict when they had kidnapped some American hostages. So there were all the fans with their military haircuts just ragging us cause we all had long shaggy hair and weren't in the military. I looked at my coach and said "Let's get out of here of we're going to be leaving in body bags." To make it worst I looked Muslim with my dark completion and long black hair. The students were just allowed to act crazy during the games, and they were crazy. As a coach the most difficult was a few years ago in a game against West Virginia. The weather was horrible, storming and raining, the field was tore up and it was just incredibly difficult to play.

Mel - Well I don't have a story quite like that, but at Georgia state there were no lights, the bleachers were the old wooden ones, in place of locker rooms there were port-a-potties, I mean they had nothing and when we got there the Georgia coach was lining the field. But they play into that, they make it work for them cause their opponents get sucked into the atmosphere, its a trap.

12. Joe - Some freshmen learn quicker than others. Which newcomer do you think has been the fastest at developing their talent on the college level? Which do you think has potential but may take a bit longer than the rest?

Joe - We have a freshman goalkeeper doing a great job in the goal. I am pleased with Shavon Knight, Janna Pearson, and Katie Watson's contributions. Caroline Brown has a huge job playing middle and I think she's doing a brilliant job playing the role.

13. Mel - Greatest game you have been a part of during you ODU career?

Mel - This whole season has been the greatest series of games I have ever been a part of.

14. Joe and Mel - Greatest accomplishment during your ODU coaching career? Playing career?

Joe - I believe that where we are right now is the greatest accomplishment I have witnessed as a coach here.

Mel - My greatest accomplishment as a player would be having been recognized by my teammates as one of the most valuable players on the team last year after overcoming my two ACL injuries.