When Tom Pollert gave up coaching soccer in 2004 to watch his son play at Columbus East, little did he know he’d be resurrecting his career a decade later in a different part of the country.
But Pollert has relit his coaching torch on the East Coast. The Columbus native has coached at Barnstable High School on Cape Cod the past two years, and last week he was named the new men’s soccer coach at College of Southern Maryland.
“When I came out here, I wanted to be a college coach,” Pollert said. “It had been a while since I had coached, so I knew I needed to get back to a lead role where I’m running my own program. As with any coach, getting to the next level is always the desire.”
The year Pollert, 50, was on his first Columbus Express soccer team in 1979, his U14 squad, coached by John McLaughlin, won the State Cup. Pollert went on to play at Columbus North and Franklin College.
After college, Pollert was an assistant under Dave Green at North, then returned to Franklin College as an assistant in 1991. He became head coach at Franklin from 1992-96 and then came back to North as an assistant for Green from 1997 to 2004.
Pollert got out of coaching to watch his son Isaac play at East and then at Franklin College. A few years ago, he retired from SIHO, where he had worked in risk management and insurance, and his life took a big turn.
Beth Crompton, Pollert’s fiancee and a teacher at Schmitt Elementary, took a teaching job on her native Cape Cod. Pollert worked as an assistant women’s coach for one year at Massachusetts Maritime Academy before taking over at Barnstable.
“I owe everything to her for letting me follow my dreams,” Pollert said. “She’s really been the person that said, ‘You can do everything you want.’”
His first year at Barnstable, Pollert led the Red Raiders to an 11-4-3 season, its best record in 14 years. Barnstable won an Old Colony League championship, made the top 20 in the Massachusetts state rankings for the first time ever and collected back-to-back team sportsmanship Awards.
Pollert, who lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts, took the job at Southern Maryland, which is about eight hours away in LaPlata, Maryland. But Crompton has a sister in Wintertown, Maryland, and a son in Washington D.C.
LaPlata is half an hour south of Washington.
“We just loved the area, so it was a perfect fit for us,” Pollert said. “It was kind of all the things I was looking for in a job and where to live and things like that.”
Southern Maryland competes at the NJCAA Division I level and reached the national tournament finals in 2011. The school has won 14 MDJUCO championships and six Region XX titles.
“It’s a pretty strong program, and that’s another reason why we looked at that school,” Pollert said. “We didn’t want to go into a rebuilding situation.”
Pollert plans to live in Maryland during the soccer season and return to Cape Cod for part of the offseason.
In addition to his duties at Southern Maryland, Pollert will be the director of player development for TPSoccer Academy, which provides professional team and individual training for soccer players of all levels during the summer on Cape Cod.
“I’m so re-energized with this thing,” Pollert said. “I feel like I’m 25 years old again. I’m in the best shape physically I’ve ever been in my life. I have a lot of energy and a lot of passion, and we’re taking this next step in the process.”
Name: Tom Pollert
High school: Columbus North
Occupation: Men’s soccer coach at College of Southern Maryland
Noteworthy: Pollert grew up on Parkside Drive in Columbus, next to what is now the Richard Wigh Soccer Complex. He considers his first Columbus Express club coach, John McLaughlin, his coaching mentor.