HELENA — Carroll College's soccer program was established in 2014 by men’s head coach Doug Mello. After serving nine years as the program’s first and only coach, Mello has announced his retirement.
Mello has always been a trailblazer in the world of soccer. He has been a collegiate soccer coach since he was 20 years old, making him the youngest collegiate head coach in history. Carroll's program wasn’t the first Mello had started. He was also tasked with establishing Luther College and Siena Heights University programs.
“One of the big challenges is not wanting to take over a team, but to actually start a team from scratch, kind of get your thumbprint on it, so to speak,” Mello said of his time creating and heading programs.
When starting Carroll’s program, Mello remembers recruiting locally, starting with Helena High and Capital players. Then expanding his net to places like Boise, Seattle, Portland, and Spokane. This year, nearly half of Mello’s roster was from countries outside of the U.S. like Iceland, South Africa, and Spain.
In Mello’s tenure, his squad qualified for the Cascade Collegiate Conference playoffs three times (2015, 2016, and 2018) and his squads reached the Cascade Collegiate Conference semifinals twice (2016 & 2018). He ends his tenure with an overall record of 64-71-10.
Through all of his success, Mello’s fondest memory as head coach was in 2018 when Javi Porras, forward from Las Alturas, Guatemala, was recognized by the United States Soccer Coaches Association as the National Scholar Player of the Year for the NAIA.
“I think about things that relate to the players and their experience. And having them feel like they leave here with a good sense of accomplishment, both in the classroom and then on the field,” Mello said.
While Mello is stepping away from Carroll College, he is not stepping away from the beautiful game.
“My son, his wife and our two granddaughters live in the Philippines. Now's the time to travel a bit more, to do some things…You know, I'm gonna take a little time, next couple months or maybe a little longer to just relax and fly fish and golf and ride my fat bike… but, you know, I'm not retired from the game of soccer,” he said. “I've been contacted about [coaching] some semi pro teams in the summer. I do a big camp for Nike, in Bozeman at MSU. You know, all those things still are going to be happening.”
As for what’s next for the Carroll College program, Mello believes he’s left a solid group behind having started five freshmen this past season.
“Whoever comes aboard, he's going to inherit a pretty strong group of young players that they can build on and experience success,” he said.
Carroll College is currently searching for their next men’s soccer head coach.