Colton Bryant Interview Dylan O’Connell

Columbia State Women’s Soccer Head Coach Colton Bryant is a man who has travelled the world to study and understand the beautiful game.

A boyhood Liverpool supporter and a staunch disciple of Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy, the US-born coach has looked far and wide to build his impressive knowledge of tactics, coaching, and building a team.

In 2018 he set up the women’s soccer team at Columbia State and in just two short years he has transformed the club into winners followers their 2019 Conference Championship success.

“The last few years have been a wild ride,” Colton told Pro-Scout 3.

Colton: “There was a huge amount of planning that went into setting up the women’s team at Columbia State. Six months before the college approved the formation of the team, I was working on budgets and plans. Once we got accepted into our division we started holding try-outs for our players and we got very lucky with who we brought in.”

Colton: “We were never supposed to win a game and yet we won our first game 5-0 and our second 1-0. We ended the season with four wins and four losses. In 2019 we brought in fifteen new players. One player, we brought in played for Manchester City. A serious pedigree of player has been attracted to our college.”

Colton: “Now we want to keep building. We have fifteen new players this year and we have a huge squad. There is depth in the squad and there will be a lot of competition for places. This will push the players and get them to work harder.”

Colton: “We’re hoping this season to win the championship and the national title.”

The formation of Columbia State and their drive for success has been all in the day of the life of Bryant, who has been steadily building his coaching CV over the last few years.

Colton: “I was born with broken ankles and my parents were told I would never walk. Against the odds, I took my first steps at one year old. After that, I began kicking a ball around. Whenever there was a ball around I would kick it. My parents would joke that I was destined for a career in football.”

Colton: “I never thought I’d make it as a coach. I never thought it was something for me up until I had a career-ending injury. I had torn my ACL three times and my coach asked me to work a day camp. I fell in love with coaching at the camp.”

Colton: “I started this academy called ‘Premier Football Tech’ that offered one and one sessions. I gave kids three sessions a week for a great price. I started out with two kids and then it grew. Four or five months later I had seventy kids to look after. It quickly turned into a training academy. We didn’t play anyone, it was strictly training.”

Colton: “There was a club in the local area that was failing. I said I will go into coach the club. When we trained we wore Premier Football Tech gear and when we played we wore the club gear. I was doing all the training and game management. From there, things exploded for me and my coaching career.”

Colton: “I got to go to Argentina and work for Newells Old Boys. That was a fun experience. I was there to study but I begged them to let me be a janitor and after that a cone picker-upper. Once I got a grasp of Spanish I started to joke with coaches. That allowed me to get to know them and with that, I was allowed to run sessions. That was really cool.”

Colton: “I like seeing different cultures and seeing how people operate within different cultures. Argentines are football mad. Over there it like football, family, religion. When I was there Barcelona was playing in the Champions League and there was no one on the streets. Everyone had to watch the game.”

Colton: “Last year I went to Barcelona and we took part in the Smart Football Initiative, a program the Catalan FA are adding onto their UEFA A License. We did Level One and we met the guy who wrote the methodology. It was a very rewarding process.”

Colton: “I’m working at the moment to become one of the Guyana national team youth coaches. I’m looking at going in to coach their u15s and u17s. We have one of the Guyana senior national team players here at Columbia State and she connected us to the team. We’re building a pathway to get some of their players into Columbia State and then we’ll transfer them in a few years to a bigger university.”

Through all of his connections and travels, Colton has developed a detailed and comprehensive coaching philosophy.

Colton: “The most important thing I do, and especially with Colombia State, start with personal connections. In your head, you might think you’re Pep Guardiola, but that counts for nothing if the player doesn’t like you and trust you. My first step is a coach is to always connect with the players. It is important that we are open and transparent.”

Colton: “At the college, we try and play a possession-based game. Saying that we are not naïve. If someone is going to press us, we see the space behind them, and we will take a moment to figure out how to exploit it. If they are going to sit back and park the bus, we need to figure out how to break that down. Everything we do is based on decision making. This might mean more pattern style coaching sessions with a shadow style. Other sessions we focus on transitions.”

Colton: “You need your sessions to be game realistic. It’s one thing having your team read the situation but they need to implement the right action. Like if they see space they should know to dribble towards it. My sessions are about creating games in a team setting that gets players to scan when they don’t know that they are scanning. They then make decisions based on this.”

Colton: “Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have been huge influences on me in different ways. They both have different styles and have build different teams. With Pep it is all about possession and Klopp’s teams are so dangerous without the ball. Klopp’s strength is his connection with the players. Both are very impactful. I want to bring this to Columbia State. Especially Klopp’s interpersonal skills. That man is amazing at how he builds relationships and creates a family mentality in the squad”