Mark Howlett is in his first year as the head coach of the Geneseo men’s soccer team. Howlett takes the helm of a team that went 9-8-2 last season and lost in the SUNYAC semifinals.
He hopes to push the Knights to become serious championship contenders now and in the future. Howlett’s resume hints that he may be just the man for the job.
Howlett grew up in Portsmouth, England where his love for the game of soccer began. England has a rich history in the game and starts developing players at a young age. From the ages of 13 to 16, Howlett played for the youth programs of several professional clubs including Southampton, Redding and Portsmouth.
Following his time with these organizations, Howlett signed a two-year apprenticeship contract with AFC Bournemouth. In his time with Bournemouth, Howlett made many appearances with the reserve team but only cracked the first team lineup a handful of times. Once his two years were up, the club decided not to renew his contract and he had to decide where to go next with his soccer career.
At this point in his life, Howlett decided to make the move to Western New York and begin his college soccer career.
“I had to explore my options and was able to come out here and match the education with the soccer,” Howlett said. “I was kind of at that point where I didn’t want to chase the dream of professional soccer anymore.”
Through conversations with friends who had also moved to Western New York, Howlett was able to apply to Roberts Wesleyan, a small private university in Rochester, N.Y.
It was during his four years at Roberts Wesleyan that Howlett rediscovered his love for the game.
“Being in that professional [soccer] structure and environment really drained the love out of the game for me,” Howlett said. “It was fun to come over here and truly understand what it’s like to be a part of a team.”
After four years of playing at the collegiate level, Howlett finally decided to end his playing career. He had grown to love the coaching aspect of the sport and wanted to keep the game in his life even if he was not the one making plays on the field anymore.
“Realistically, soccer is in my blood and I couldn’t imagine my life without it,” Howlett said.
With this fact in mind, Howlett made the switch from player to coach. Before arriving in Geneseo, Howlett spent time coaching at several universities, including SUNY schools in Buffalo and Canton. His time as a player made the transition from playing to coaching very natural, but it was not all easy.
“In the younger years it was more my way and ‘we’re going to do it this way’ just to kind of stamp some authority into it,” Howlett said. “I think now it’s definitely a little different as far as we’ve got to make sure the players feel that it’s their program as well.”
This value is something he hopes to instill at Geneseo: a program that best serves the players and results in victories.
Howlett brings extensive experience to the head coaching position here at Geneseo. He decided to make the move to the university because he truly believes in what has been built here.
In recent years, many of the athletic programs have found success both in their conferences in and nationally. He believes the Knights have that same potential.
“For me I really believe that [the team] is a sleeping giant,” Howlett said. “This can be a job for life where we build something special here.”