Sean Holmes was named head men's soccer coach at Drake in 1998 and this season marks his 16th campaign directing the Bulldogs' fortunes.
During Holmes' 15-year tenure, the Bulldogs have posted a 128-129-31 record, building a legacy of excellence on Drake's campus and in the Missouri Valley Conference. In 20 years as a head coach he has amassed a 206-155-33 overall record.
In 2012, the Bulldogs were faced with reloading a squad that lost six starters from a team that went 11-8-1 in 2011.
Despite the challenges, Drake registered a 6-11-4 ledger, including a 2-2-2 record in the MVC and a spot in the semifinals of the MVC Championship. The Bulldogs posted a 0-0 double-overtime tie with No. 12 Creighton on Sept. 29 at the Cownie Soccer Complex and took the 12th-rated Bluejays to double overtime in the semifinals of the MVC Championship before dropping a 3-2 decision.
Led by senior Michael Thaden, who was chosen as a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference men's soccer selection, four Drake student-athletes garnered All-MVC accolades. Redshirt junior Rich Gallagher and junior Addison Eck were tabbed honorable mention selections, while redshirt freshman Alec Bartlett was recognized as an all-freshman team recipient. Thaden was also a Continental Tires/National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Midwest Regional selection
Juniors Garrett Crall and Nick Marshall garnered All-MVC Men's Soccer Scholar-Athlete accolades, while Marshall went on to be named a second-team honoree to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America® Division I Men's Soccer Team, as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Holmes’ 2011 squad turned in a strong campaign finishing with an 11-8-1 mark en route to a berth in the semifinals of the State Farm MVC Championship.
Led by seniors Matt Kuhn and Charles Schwartz, who were chosen as first-team All-MVC men's soccer selections, seven Drake student-athletes garnered All-MVC accolades. Seniors Hunter Kennedy and Thomas Ostrander, along with Crall, were tabbed second-team selections, while senior Jordan Kadlec was recognized as an honorable mention recipient. Capping a stellar campaign with All-Freshman team accolades was Kyle Whigham.
Kuhn, an MLS supplemental draft selection by DC United, was named to the Capital One Academic All-America first team and also joined Ostrander on the NSCAA All-America team. Kuhn was named to the second team, while Ostrander became only the third Bulldog to pull in honors more than once with his selection to the third team. He was a first-team honoree in 2010.
Kuhn, Ostrander and Schwartz also were chosen 2011 Continental Tires/NSCAA All-Midwest Regional selections. Tabbed to the second team was Kuhn, while Ostrander and Schwartz were named to the third team. It marked the fourth consecutive season and 10th time in program history that the Bulldogs have garnered at least two players on the all-region squad.
Coming on the heels of the most successful season in school history in 2009, the 2010 edition of the Bulldogs featured a young core of players facing arguably Drake's most challenging schedule ever as the Bulldogs played the likes of national powers Michigan, Indiana, Notre Dame, Saint Louis and UC Irvine, not to mention conference rival Creighton.
Infused with 14 newcomers in 2010, the Bulldogs turned in a successful 8-8-2 record (4-2-1 MVC), including a 1-0 road victory over Michigan, who advanced to the College Cup, and 1-1 double-overtime tie with No. 12 UC Irvine.
Senior Nick Foster, who was selected as a first team All-MVC men's soccer selection, led eight Drake student-athletes garnering All-MVC accolades. Ostrander and Thaden were tabbed second-team selections, while Kadlec and Schwartz were recognized as honorable mention recipients.
Capping stellar freshman campaigns with All-Freshman team accolades were Crall, Max Duncan and Marshall.
Additionally, Foster and Ostrander were both tabbed 2010 NSCAA/Performance Subaru All-Midwest Regional third-team selections.
The Bulldogs were equally successful off the field as Foster and Ostrander became the first-ever Bulldogs named to the first team NSCAA Men's College Scholar All-America Team. The duo became the ninth and 10th Drake players to garner NSCAA Academic All-America accolades, and the first two to be named to the first team.
Drake posted a school-record 16-7-2 mark in 2009, capped off by winning its first ever MVC Tournament championship while advancing to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Drake earned its highest ranking in school history, being rated No. 8 in the final 2009 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top-25 National Poll. The Bulldogs also rated eighth in the final 2009 NCAA RPI tabulation.
"To be ranked in the top 10 in both RPI and the NSCAA Coaches' poll was beyond our greatest expectations," said Holmes. "We always thought we could build something special and I think this was validation of how far we truly have come as a program."
The Bulldogs posted 2009 NCAA Tournament victories past Western Illinois (2-1), No. 13 ranked Ohio State (1-0, overtime) and Boston College (6-4) before falling at nationally ranked North Carolina (2-1).
Garrett Webb was a semifinalist for the 2009 Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy that is the highest individual honor in college soccer. He also became the second Drake player to earn All-America status with his selection to the NSCAA and College Soccer News second and third team All-America squads, respectively.
A national-best three Bulldogs were named to the 2009 CoSIDA ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America teams led by senior Brian Wurst, who became the initial first team Academic All-American honoree in school history. Joining him on the second and third teams, respectively, were junior Matt Kuhn and senior Calvin Clark. Drake's three selections marked the most of any school in the country in the university division (Division I), besting Akron and South Carolina, who garnered two selections each.
Holmes led the Bulldogs to a school-record 13-5-1 mark in 2008, including six-consecutive shutouts to open the season. Drake finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 4-1-0 record and made its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, receiving an at-large bid. The Bulldogs were nationally ranked for the final 10 weeks of the season.
In 2007, the Bulldogs posted a 9-6-4 record, knocking off highly touted Wisconsin, 3-1, and forcing then-ranked No. 8 Creighton to a double overtime 1-1 tie.
Holmes led Drake to a 6-7-6 record in 2006, advancing to the semifinals of the State Farm MVC championship, which ended in a tie with eventual runner-up Bradley. Drake lost, 5-3, in penalty kicks, but showed the grit and determination that Holmes had instilled in his players.
Holmes led the Bulldogs to a school-record three victories over top 25 ranked teams in 2005, including Drake's first win over then No. 16 Creighton to end a 22-year drought against the Bluejays.
That victory sparked a four-game winning streak to the end of the season that saw Drake win its first MVC Tournament game since 1997 with a 1-0 victory against Missouri State in the quarterfinal round. Those wins vaulted Drake to a 9-9-2 mark, giving the Bulldogs a winning percentage of .500 or better in three of the previous four seasons after a six-year stint of losing seasons.
Drake's progress also has been noticed at the next level with four players being drafted by the Major League Soccer. Matt Nickell and Kuhn were selected by the DC United in 2004 and 2012, respectively, while Corey Farabi and Chris Hamburger were both drafted by the Kansas City Wizards in 2005.
The NSCAA also has noticed Drake's progress, ranking the Bulldogs No. 22 nationally in the NSCAA/adidas poll the week of Oct. 27, 2003, for the first time in the team's 18-year history. Holmes then led Drake to a No. 25 ranking the opening week of the 2004 season.
Drake posted a 10-6-3 record in 2003, the most victories since a school record 11-win season in 1993.
In 2002, Drake finished fourth in the MVC regular season standings to host the quarterfinal round of the MVC Tournament for the first time in school history. It also marked the then highest finish in conference in Holmes' career at Drake, rising from 10th place the previous season. It also was the first of four post-season berths as the Bulldogs finished fifth in the MVC in 2003 and 2004, before being fourth in 2005.
Holmes came to Drake after serving as the top assistant at conference-rival Evansville from 1995-98. During his tenure at Evansville, the Aces compiled a 47-30-6 record, winning the 1996 MVC championship. The team, which he helped build, garnered an NCAA Tournament berth and a top 20 ranking.
Holmes, 48, was born in Switzerland and grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. An all-Ontario sweeper at Carleton University from 1983-87, Holmes was a 1983 Lisgar Colegiate Graduate and a CIAU Men's Soccer Finalist in 1984. Holmes also won the Jack Vogen Award as the school's outstanding senior student-athlete in 1987. He played professionally for the Ottawa Pioneers of the Canadian Soccer League in 1987, and began his coaching career with the University of Kansas soccer club in 1988.
Holmes was head coach at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., from 1989-93, compiling a 78-26-2 record, leading the 1991, 1992 and 1993 teams to NAIA District 10 championships. Holmes also served as director of the Olympic Development Program in Kansas for two years.
Holmes was named NAIA Midwest Coach of the Year in 1992, and NAIA District 10 Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1993. He was the Heart of America Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1991.
Holmes holds a USSF 'A' level coaching license and is a member of the Region II staff for the Olympic Development Program. He serves as a staff coach for the Iowa Soccer Association, and also served as age group coach for both the 1978 and 1984 Region II teams. He was an assistant coach at the 1994 U.S. Olympic Sports Festival in St. Louis, Mo.
When Holmes discusses academics with his student-athletes, he does so from a unique perspective. He earned a master's degree in political science from the University of Kansas and began work towards his Ph.D. before being sidetracked by college soccer. At Baker, he taught both political science and critical thinking. During his time at Evansville, he taught world cultures, and every semester gave the capstone lecture to sophomores on "The Clash of Civilizations." Holmes has taught an introductory course in world history at Drake.
"I think being in the classroom helped me as a coach, and gave me a more balanced approach to interacting with my players," said Holmes. "It has helped me appreciate the dedication required of our student-athletes to be both students and athletes. It's a given that our kids will graduate. More importantly, we want them to be educated."Holmes and his wife, Dr. Carrie Holmes, reside in Des Moines with their three sons, Matthew (16), Samuel (13) and Andrew (9).