SoccerWire Q&A: Talking “juco” soccer with NVCC coach James Mundia
By Michael Willis
SPRINGFIELD, Va. — James Mundia is the head coach of Northern Virginia Community College’s soccer team, which competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). A native of Kenya and a soccer coach since his high school days, Mundia has been coaching at NVCC for the past two seasons, and is attempting to jump-start the program.
Mundia attended the University of North Carolina, and is also a bit of an entrepreneur; he started a private instruction program in Arlington, Va. called the Arlington Football Academy.
During the Virginian Elite Showcase on Sunday, I got a chance to speak with Mundia about a few things concerning the soccer program at Northern Virginia Community College, widely known in the Washington, D.C. area as “NoVa.”
SoccerWire.com: What does NoVa have to offer to a prospective college soccer player and what is something you explain to the parents and players about the program?
James Mundia: It’s a great opportunity to continue playing soccer at a high level after high school. The school kind of sells itself academically, and so we want to offer those that are there for academics, and also have the soccer pedigree, a chance to continue to play at a high level.
And really, that was the biggest draw for me as a coach. We’ve got the largest educational institution in the state, and [Northern Virginia] is a great area for soccer. So it’s kind of cool to be able to pull from some of the great clubs and high schools in the area, and really build a competitive squad. I think that we provide a great opportunity to compete nationally.
SW: Who are some of the teams NoVa plays against during the season, and where do you travel?
JM: We’re in Region 20 of the NJCAA, so teams that we face off against are Haverford, Community College of Baltimore County, Haverford – Montgomery County (Md.) is kind of, I guess you could say we have a little bit of a rivalry with them. Potomac State in West Virginia is a great program. Westmoreland, Anne Arundel College is another good one. We play a lot of Beltway games this year, which is great for logistics. Our biggest rival, though, is Prince George’s (Md.).
SW: What is the direction of the program? Do players matriculate to larger, four-year programs, and what is your goal as a coach?
JM: What we’re trying to do now, this upcoming season will be our second year that we’ve had full participation in the NJCAA, so we’re just now starting the process of building a relationship with local area [four-year] schools that are looking for juco players. I can’t speak for what [Northern Virginia Community College] has done in the past, but we are starting to build relationships with these coaches, and they do come scout our games.
And the kids that have expressed interest in playing at a four-year school, we kind of help them with that process in terms of contacting coaches, getting their recruiting profiles, getting video, all that stuff. It’s not something that was the norm in the past, and now we’re building that and making it the norm.
That’s my biggest job. It’s not only getting them to go to a four-year school if they want to for academics, but helping them with the chance to play at a higher level and play at a four-year school, regardless of the classification.
SW: What is the major difference between, say the NCJAA and NCAA Division I, II and III soccer, both in playing style and in general?
JM: I would say the biggest difference between D1, D2, D3, Junior College, and beyond is the physical nature of the game and the speed of the game. So those are things that I think if you were to compare a D1 squad, you’re going to see disparities there. But the level of play is still high.
And mind you, the reason there’s that disparity between D1 programs is because of resources, and who they’re recruiting. So a big reason why I’m out here today, and I was just talking with a whole gaggle of moms about the recruiting process, is to demystify how we find players. One reason why we start early – and I’m looking at the class of 2015 right now – is that we want them to get used to the idea of getting ready to play at a higher level on top of playing for their high schools and clubs right now.
Going back to [the differences between the divisions], it’s noticeable in speed and physicality, but again, that’s just innate within the divisions.
SoccerWire.com thanks James Mundia for taking time out of his recruiting day at the Virginian Elite Showcase to speak with us.