One-on-One with New AFC Cleveland Coach Carter Poe

AFC Cleveland recently appointed Carter Poe as their head coach, ending speculation as to who was going to be in charge of the team this season. Although some of the fans are already familiar with Carter because of his previous stint as a player and assistant coach of AFC Cleveland, others may not know so much about him.

With this in mind, Carter was kind enough to tell us a little bit more about himself so that AFC Cleveland fans know what they’re getting with him and what to expect this season. Below is what he had to say:

On his roots and background…
“I am a Cleveland native, born in Cleveland, coached soccer in Cleveland [at] the Cleveland Soccer Academy. I went to college at Duquesne University and played there, and during my time I also played for AFC Cleveland. Following that I recently took a job at the University of Mount Union coaching and I’ve been coaching with AFC and I also work with Cleveland Soccer Academy.”

On how he first got involved in soccer…
“I first got involved when I was 5 years old and my parents enrolled me in a rec league team and that was my first experience. “

On his soccer idols growing up…
“Hm… I really liked Thierry Henry and I liked Zidane.”

On why he chose to play for AFC Cleveland
“I heard they were bringing a team to the city and I was looking for something- some high level play to step up my college game during the off-season, and AFC offered that; and they were in Cleveland, I’m from Cleveland, so that just made sense to try out and luckily they chose me for the team.”

On his fondest memory during as an AFC Cleveland player…
“I would definitely say winning our conference championship the first season that was definitely the top.”

On when he first decided to get involved in coaching…
“I decided to start getting involved in coaching when I was in college.  I was looking for some extra money and trying to think about what I could do, but I realized that coaching might be something I could do because I was an education major and coaching is a lot like education and teaching. So I decided to get involved with my old club coach and help out with some camps and stuff like that.”

On his time coaching at Mount Union…
“I definitely learned about how to set up a culture and what it takes to win and compete at the college level, and as a coach just kind of everything that goes into being a coach: how to train players, manage players, recruit, all those sort of things.”

On what convinced him take the AFC Cleveland coach job…
“The same reasons I decided to join as a player. To some extent, being from Cleveland, I’ve been around the team for a couple years, I have a vested interest in the team and in the city. And so, the prospect of being able to coach the home team from my home city was really awesome. I love the fans here, the owner, and the players, and you know… it was just a no brainer.”

On this season’s roster…
“We’re still working on the roster a lot at this point. We probably have almost half of it put together. There’s going to be a couple of guys back from last year but a lot of new faces too.”

On the formations he has in mind for the team…
“Too soon to tell because the formation has  to be dictated by the players, so I can’t put together a formation with a system where I really push the outside backs up if I don’t have strong backs like that. So we’re still waiting on the players, we’re seeing who we have. We have some idea of the formation but all we have right now is our style, so we have the philosophy but not quite the formation.”

On the type of philosophy he hopes to instill in the players…
“I think that the philosophy has to represent the city that you’re from or the area that you’re from and so, Cleveland is a very blue collar hard working place, so I want the team to embrace that, to be a hard working team. But I also want to play an attractive style of soccer, so I want work hard, I want to defend, to press high, but I also want us to keep the ball too and be able to knock it around.”

On which coach influenced him the most…
“I would say probably that the coach that had the greatest influence on me was probably my dad. He coached me a little bit in soccer and some basketball as well, but he really taught me a lot about caring for other people and working hard, so he’s definitely been the biggest coaching influence.”

On this season’s game schedule…
“I think it is going to be really difficult. There’s a lot of good teams in the group we’re in and with Detroit and Lansing, and some of the traditional teams like Erie, so it’s going to be tough. We’re going to have to go to Detroit early on in the season and that’s going to be really difficult but we’re definitely excited about it.”

On what the team can accomplish this season…
“You know, that’s difficult to say right now because we don’t have all the players. But realistically, if we get the players who we got our eye on and we’re hoping to get, the goal is definitely play-offs for this group.  And once you get in the play-offs anything can happen really, so I think that’s our bottom line goal, to want to make the play-offs and I think that is a realistic goal”

His message to the fans…
“I would just say that I want to thank them for their support thus far, both as a player and last year when I was coach. We definitely want to represent them and make them proud this year and work on paying them back, and just so thankful for their support. That’s all I can say is that it’s been awesome in all the years I’ve been here and I look forward to seeing them again this year.”