Aug. 5, 2008
Northern Illinois coaches Jerry Kill (football), Carrie Barker (women's soccer) and Ray Gooden (volleyball) met the media in the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center before the Huskies' annual football photo day at Huskie Stadium. Men's soccer Steve Simmons sent his regrets as he was out of town.
See complete video of the coaches' session with the media on August 5 in DeKalb, as well as the July 31 football press day in Chicago, for FREE through Huskie All-Access.
NIU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Jeff Compher
"Thanks, and welcome everybody. It's great to be here on my first local media day. Before I start talking about football, I thought I would mention a few things about me and our athletic department. Most of you know that I'm relatively new. I have been on the job about 65 days and I have my family here now. I want to let you know that we are going to be as transparent and as open with the media as we possibly can. That's my style and I think we have coaches that feel that way too. We want you to get to know our student-athletes and our coaches. Feel free to ask us and let us do anything we can do to help."
On new developments in the athletic department:
"There are some things in our department that are pretty exciting right now. If you look past the football field and that grove of trees, you will see a lot of construction going on with our new track and soccer complex. I know [women's soccer coach] Carrie Barker is excited about that. Hopefully, around August 28th she will be kicking that ball around there in our first game. The way that it looks right now, we are on schedule, but you just never know with the weather.
"The other thing that is kind of behind the scenes and hasn't been seen that much is that we have two new practice facilities coming on line this year. The first is a new wrestling mat room that is just beautiful, spacious and devoted just to wrestling. I know Coach Grant is very excited about that. We also have a new gymnastics room coming on board and that should be done during the fall semester. That will give our gymnastics team two venues to practice in and obviously they already have a great venue to compete in [the Convocation Center].
"Finally, it's been talked about and written about a lot, but I can't say enough about it, and that is the fact our student-athletes have got it done in the classroom. They have worked hard and got support from our coaches and academic services. [Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Academic Support Services] Francine St. Clair is here. I want to thank her for her efforts. We have had six straight semesters with a 3.0 or better GPA. That is simply amazing. I'm very proud of what they have done. They always say that getting there is hard and staying there is harder, but we have set an expectation there and we have our work cut out for us. But that is one of our goals to keep that there and keep that kind of achievement going."
On the football program:
"I've been here for 65 days and I finally got a chance to talk to the team this past week and it was great to kick off the season with them. They are eager to get started. All of you have seen the polls, and I have talked about it a little - I call it the "No Love Poll". People don't think we are going to be very good this year, but I don't think we have a last-place person on our staff and we don't have a last-place person on our team. I am confident that we are going to get out there and play hard, work hard, and do what it takes to represent this program and this university really well.
"I have gotten to know Coach Kill and his family and this coaching staff. I did not hire Coach Kill, obviously, he was here when I got here, and I am so glad he is here. We share a lot of the same values and we want the same things for our student-athletes. We care deeply about our football program, but we care even more about the individuals on our team. He is a great guy and what he is doing with this team and the transition he is going through has really been phenomenal and I want to thank him for that."
NIU Women's Soccer Head Coach Carrie Barker
"First of all, I would like to start by saying 'thank you' for everyone who has supported women's soccer in the past. I think that this room is filled with very important people and I just want to say thank you and I hope to see you support us throughout the year.
On the upcoming season:
"I am so excited for this season, if the new field does not excite you I do not know what will. I cannot wait to play our game, our first event there, and have training on a regular basis. I am extremely flattered to coach as a Huskie. I have been in the coaching world for quite some time, but to be wearing a Huskie hat is extremely exciting for me.
On coaching in the MAC:
"I am excited to be competing in the MAC. I have been involved in the Big Ten as a player and a coach for many years, and the MAC excites me. I know it is extremely competitive and any given day anyone can beat anybody and that is something I look forward to. Our team is actually coming in on the 12th and we are all ready to start the season. I look forward to building a relationship with you all throughout the year and `Go Huskies!"
NIU Women's Volleyball Head Coach Ray Gooden
On coaching the 20-and-under team in Europe this summer:
"I came back from Europe about three weeks ago when I was on a trip where I was a co-head coach of a 20-and-under team that competed in the European championship. We finished the highest of all the American teams that were in attendance at the tournament. The experience was tremendous for me as a coach: not only working with some of the best coaches in the NCAA, but also getting the chance to represent NIU in that fashion. I would like to thank the administration for allowing me to do that.
"This year, in regards to the 2008 season, we have 11 players returning to our team and three incoming players that we think all have a chance of making significant contributions to our program. I think in order to be as good as we want to be, we are going to have to play up to the competition of our schedule. We are going to play seven or eight teams that have been in the NCAA tournament in the last two years. So almost one-third of our schedule is going to be against NCAA tournament teams and we will have to `put our money where our mouth is.'"
Our team is really excited and really eager to show what they can do. We have two tournaments during the year--one the first weekend and then one the weekend of the 12th and 13th of September and we encourage everyone to come out and see us play. I think it is a great event and a chance to come see the team at Victor E. Court and take in the atmosphere. I think if you come and see how we play I think you will become a fan too. We have those opportunities early in the year, and some of those games are on non-football weekends so you can get a chance to truly experience it and get to see what the volleyball games are like.
On the schedule this season:
We also play against Northern Iowa, Clemson, and Marquette and two of those teams have been nationally ranked. We also mix in our local rivalries with Western Illinois, Illinois State, DePaul, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and three of those teams have been to the NCAA tournament in the last couple of years. So that puts us in pretty good shape for our conference. Any time we play a MAC match, or any MAC event for any sport, it is always going to be a dog fight. We are excited and eager to get our MAC season started. We are going to get a pretty good tune-up with our non-conference schedule."
NIU Football Head Coach Jerry Kill
"I appreciate the opportunity to be here today. First of all, I am a huge athletics fan and I encourage you to get out and watch volleyball and watch soccer. I have two daughters and one was a very good high school volleyball player and my other daughter played soccer when we lived in Michigan. I have been around and there is nothing like athletics. I coach the game of football, but I love athletics and I love watching young people compete. And if you haven't been to a soccer game or volleyball game, it is a great game. I enjoyed watching both of them throughout my years."
Complete transcript of Kill's media session as well as quotes from Huskie players, available click here.