Greg Conrad ’17, former two-sport star for Middlebury, now excels as a coach and mentor

By Sam Lipin

Greg Conrad ’17 might be one of the most talented athletes to come out of Middlebury in the past decade, but his recent contributions to the school through mentorship and coaching are proving equally impressive. After a four-year career on the men’s soccer and hockey squads and a stint playing professionally abroad, Conrad is now in his third year as an assistant coach for the men’s soccer team while also serving as the Associate Director of MIDDCORE. 

Conrad is now an assistant coach for the men’s soccer team.

During his collegiate years, Conrad was the 2014 NESCAC Player of the Year, a three-time First-Team All-NESCAC selection and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-American. He was also a two-time team captain during his junior and senior seasons. 

Also a member of the hockey team, Conrad tallied five goals and two assists his senior year. Before each hockey season, Conrad would have to “relearn” how to skate, unable to commit himself to rigorous hockey-intensive training in the fall — unlike his teammates — because of the soccer season. 

While Conrad will be remembered for his athleticism and goal-scoring prowess, head men’s soccer coach Alex Elias notes that there’s more to Conrad’s legacy than just his statistics. 

“While he did have this fierce desire to win and achieve, he was also a very supportive teammate,” head men’s soccer coach Alex Elias ’08 pointed out. “It was an obvious vote that he would lead our team for multiple years.”

Conrad, 19, during a game against Bowdoin.

Elias highlighted that it was not only Conrad’s athletic dominance and work ethic that was so vital to the team’s success, but his more “humanistic” qualities that allowed him to be an impactful teammate and a leader. 

After his senior hockey season ended in 2017, Conrad committed himself to playing professional soccer and found an opportunity in Scandinavia.

“I knew I wouldn’t be right waking up at a desk job knowing my career was over,” Conrad said. “I had that lingering feeling after the soccer season ended, and it never went away.”

Conrad spent the 2017 spring break in Iceland, where he practiced with various teams, including Vikingur Reykjavik in the Icelandic Premier League. He got a good taste for the level of competition he could expect in the future and eventually signed a contract with UMF Afturelding of Icelandic Deild 2 in Mosfellsbær, Iceland, a small town near Reykjavik. He did not perform to the team’s satisfaction — nor his own — however, and ended up a few months later in Saudarkrokur, Iceland, where he was able to find his groove.

“I, as a player, love to mesh into my team and I’m inspired by teammates and being a part of that culture,” Conrad said. “I felt like I was a part of something in Saudarkrokur.”

After his stop in Saudarkrokur, Conrad moved to Bochum, Germany, where he felt successful both individually and collectively. “I found myself at the top of the game,” Conrad claimed. 

The language and cultural barriers abroad proved to be large obstacles for Conrad. While he was eventually able to develop friendships with his teammates, he struggled during practice because drills were instructed in the native language. And while he was accustomed to constant feedback from his coaches at Middlebury, there wasn’t as much communication on the field abroad.

Conrad playing for UMF Afturelding.

Ultimately, Conrad reflects on his time abroad as an incredibly special time in his life. He said that the experience allowed him to not only continue playing the sport he loves, but also develop skills of resilience and grit. 

In the summer of 2018, Conrad was offered a job as an assistant coach for the men’s soccer team from his former coach, Elias. While he was finding success in the professional realm, Conrad knew the offer presented a unique opportunity to return to his roots.

Now in his third year of coaching for the Panthers, Conrad has built a strong reputation as a coach. He brings professional expertise and strong mentorship skills to the team, a combination that most coaches can’t boast.

“He goes out of his way to make myself and each one of my teammates feel valued,” Raffi Barsamian ’21.5, a midfielder for the Panthers, said. “Whether that’s picking us up when we are having a tough practice or just engaging with us and what we are doing off the field. Through his work with us around the team and through MIDDCORE, I would say that he has been pivotal in the way that I look at my next stage in life.”

Conrad’s playing days might be over, but his impact on the Middlebury men’s soccer program and Middlebury students endures.