In a meeting on Jan. 30, head women’s soccer coach Chris Haught-Thompsonannounced to his team he would be heading back to the institution he came to Knox from, Virginia Military Institute. He also sent an email on the same day to the players that were abroad.
“This is a very hard email for me to write. While I was not thinking about leaving nor looking, an opportunity has arisen very quickly and recently. I have decided to take it and go back to VMI as the head coach,” the email read, provided by a women’s soccer player. “It’s been a very bittersweet week as I start to prepare for this transition. I am excited for the jump and the opportunities for myself and my family but it’s been a hard decision to leave.”
Virginia Military Institute is a Division I school that Haught-Thompson assisted at since he graduated in 2012 from Lake Forest College. Haught-Thompson then coached at Knox for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Haught-Thompson was also named the 2018 Midwest Conference Coach of the Year for leading the women to their second straight conference tournament win. As far as leaving Knox goes, he believes it’s the right step for his career.
“I was at VMI before this. It’s the place that raised me as a coach and so not often do you get the opportunity to go back to a place like that,” Haught-Thompson said. “Obviously, being a Division I program, it’s a great step in my career but it’s super hard to leave. We have a great group and a great team and obviously a lot of success and so it’s a tough decision but I think going forward it’s the best thing for me and my family.”
As far as recruiting goes, Haught-Thompson is making sure that the prospects and commits he had coming into the next season will still be coming.
“I think the administration knows all of our targets. We’ve got some good commits and we’ll make sure they’re still coming. Obviously it becomes tumultuous when a coach leaves but I think the people we recruit don’t come here because of me, they come here because of our team and because of Knox and the community and our program,” Haught-Thompson said. “I’ve sent personal messages saying ‘I hope this is still your place, please still go to Knox,’ those kind of things. I think we’ll be fine. It’s not something I’m super concerned about. Obviously the coach has to come in and make sure all of that’s good.”
As the search for a new coach begins, Haught-Thompson doesn’t think he’ll be involved but will do everything in his power to make sure a good coach comes in.
“I think it’s too early to tell. I will certainly direct people I know that are interested to the posting and to the administration but in terms of if I’m part of that, I don’t know. Probably not. Just so they can go in there with clear direction but I’ll have some names for them and see what they think,” Haught-Thompson said.
Haught-Thompson will start his job at VMI in mid-February.