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Howlett ready to rebuild, return team to relevancy

Recruiting prowess set him apart from other candidates

By Aubrey Gibert
On April 17, 2013


Coming off its worst season since 1989 when it went 0-14, the Buffalo State men's soccer team
knew a long offseason was in store after firing long-time head coach Rudy Pompert.
The question of whom they might hire was on the minds of many around campus. When it was
all said and done, Buffalo State went with the man who presented them with a mission: changing
the culture of a team and transforming it back to winning.
After going through a national search in which they received 105 applicants, it was Mark
Howlett that stood out to the university above all others.
Howlett was among five applicants to be interviewed in person, but when it was all said and
done man for the job was obvious.
"He simply improved every team he was a part of," said assistant director of athletics Jeff
Ventura. "If you look at his résumé, everywhere he went he had success. He improved two
programs along with bringing in multiple recruits."
Howlett was hired March 4 as Buffalo State's men's soccer coach and the mission is still the
same according to Howlett.
"We will play hard each and every minute, while setting realistic goals for ourselves in the
process," he said.
Not only known for transforming the likes of Canton and Nazareth, Howlett was also hired based
on his ability to recruit players. In his first year at Canton, Howlett recruited 24 players to the
team and that's what ultimately caught Buffalo State's eye.
"Not only were we looking for a young bright mind, but we were looking for a guy that can go
into an athlete's home and represent our university along with him and Mark has clearly shown
that over the years," Ventura said.
"I think when it comes to recruiting, academics come first," Howlett said. "Academics come
before any sport and soccer is no different. Balancing your relationships and trust with your
players and being more than just a coach is really what college athlete's look for nowadays and I
try and support them in everything they do."
Under NCAA regulation rules, Howlett will be allowed three months of spring practices. He has
already taken advantage of that rule to meet some of the current players and evaluate what the
"We've put the players through various study and strength conditioning where I just want to see
where the players' heads are," Howlett said.
Also known as a player-friendly coach who is very passionate and hard working, Howlett has
been out on the road recruiting heavily since being hired.
"I'm expecting 12-14 new bodies come Summer time," he said.
While expectations aren't very high coming off a one win season, Howlett has personally put a
lot of pressure on himself and the team.
Asked about the type of play we'll see from this Bengals next season, Howlett emphasized a
strong defensive unit that will push the attack at times.
"We will have a mixed playing style where how we play will variate on a game to game basis.
We will be flexible and our game-plans will change daily," he said.
Howlett has only been on the job for a month now, but he has already turned the heads of many
people around campus, including current players. Returning defensemen Brett Lanham has really
embraced what coach Howlett has preached.
"First impressions are everything and with coach Howlett you could tell he's extremely hard-
working and dedicated to turning the program around," Lanham said. "It seems like he has one
thing on his mind, winning."
"The tradition is what interested me to Buffalo State," Howlett said. "The passion for the game
of soccer up north is resembled to where I'm from in Northeast England. The history is eye
popping here at Buffalo State and I just want to be the one to restore it to its glory days."
With a lot of change and new faces, Howlett realizes year one will be a tough one with
cohesiveness being the one flaw of the team. Still, Howlett sees a program that in three years can
compete for a SUNYAC championship and he has the backing of the university.
"I don't really feel our record was indicative of our team but more so on our coaching,"
Ventura said. "Besides work ethic and passion we were looking for somebody who would bring
discipline to this program and hold players accountable."
A lofty expectation for a young coach, but Buffalo State believes they have found the right man
for the job in Howlett.
Aubrey Gibert can be reached by email at

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