For the past six seasons, Martin Painter maintained the Western Mustangs women's soccer program's position as one of Ontario's most successful.
The Western alum led the women's team to three Ontario University Athletics silver medals, a bronze medal and three trips to the U Sports National Championship tournament. Painter's record over the past six seasons includes 79 wins, 18 draws and 21 losses.
And now the man who brought so much success to the women's team will take the reins of both the women's and men's programs as Painter was named head coach of varsity soccer on May 2.
“We’re excited to have Martin step into this new role and lead Mustangs soccer as we continue to build it into one of the top programs in the nation,” said Christine Stapleton, Western University’s director of Sport and Recreation Services. “Martin has a proven track record as one of the best coaches in the country, and we’re looking forward to seeing him lead both our men’s and women’s teams going forward.”
Painter will succeed Rock Basacco at the helm of the men's program. Basacco, who stepped down from his coaching duties after 20 years as the Mustangs head man, built a powerhouse program, winning seven OUA titles and back-to-back U Sports national championships in 1998 and 1999.
Painter hopes to build on Basacco's legacy both on and off the pitch.
"The history of this program speaks for itself," said Painter. "It will be important to continue to have Rock involved in the program to maintain those things that made him so successful: integrity, dedication and hard work."
While there are inherent challenges to a coach taking over two varsity athletics programs, Painter believes that putting the right people in place to micromanage operations and administrative roles will allow him to oversee the successful development of both programs.
"We'll have something like 60 players involved in both programs, so it will be important to have the right people in place, so over the next few weeks, we'll be adding some new additions to the staff," said Painter.
Along with his success at the collegiate level, Painter has coached in the Premier Development League with FC London and K-W United FC. He is also a scout for Toronto FC of Major League Soccer and will use his connections from coaching and scouting to recruit talent throughout the province.
Despite the differences between the men's and women's games, Painter believes that his versatility and experience can help him succeed with both teams.
"I don't think the men's and women's games are inherently that different," said Painter. "I think every team has a different culture, a different way of wanting to play and different types of athletes and skillsets. So it will be my job to work with those differences and find success."
In 2017, the women's soccer team reached the OUA championship game and qualified for a spot in the U Sports national championship, and the men's team fell in the quarterfinals. Both programs have a rich tradition and recent success, which combined with Painter's connections, should make for a fascinating future on the field and in recruiting circles.
Now it's up to Painter to adapt to his new role and lead Western soccer forward.