SE: Meet the Assistants: Gabe Romo

August 26, 2015
By Kelly McHugh-Stewart
Finishing up a five-week series, today’s K-State Sports Extra is the final story introducing Wildcat fans to K-State’s new assistant coaches. With new faces in K-State’s volleyball, tennis and soccer programs, and familiar faces stepping up in the women’s basketball and rowing programs, we hope you have enjoyed getting to know a few of the newest members of the K-State family. 
Gabe Romo: K-State Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Previous Position: Head men’s and women’s soccer coach at Holy Names University
Gabe Romo isn’t in a traditional assistant coach role quite yet, but he doesn’t mind. 
He is the first assistant coach of the Wildcats’ brand new women’s soccer program, and with that role comes many unique responsibilities. The Los Angeles native is K-State soccer head coach Mike Dibbini’s right-hand man, and the two have spent the past eight months building the K-State soccer program from the ground up. 
Background: No stranger to the Midwest, Romo has a long history of playing and coaching at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kansas. From 2011-14, Romo spent time both as a member of Dibbini’s staff at Kansas Wesleyan and as the men’s head soccer coach. He was named the men’s head coach in 2013 where he registered a 13-4-3 record en route to earning Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Coach of the Year honors. 
Romo became Kansas Wesleyan’s first assistant coach for the men’s and women’s programs in 2011 where he helped both teams to KCAC regular season and tournament crowns and appearances in the NAIA national tournament. In 2012 he served as the teams’ associate head coach under Dibbini and helped lead both programs to significant success. The men’s team finished with a 16-3-2 record and earned a final NAIA ranking of No. 10 in the nation, while the women’s squad notched a 20-2 overall mark and finished the year with a final NAIA ranking of No. 11. 
Romo played soccer for Kansas Wesleyan from 2005-08 where he was a key factor in the Coyotes success. He was a team captain his senior season and helped the team to a 56-22-5 record, three KCAC regular conference titles and two KCAC tournament crowns in his four years. 
Upon graduating from Kansas Wesleyan in 2009, Romo kicked off his coaching career at Lancaster (California) High School from 2009-10 and with La Canada (California) High School from 2010-11.
Romo comes to K-State after spending one season (2014) as the men’s and women’s head coach at Holy Names University in Oakland, California, where he was working to turn around both programs. 
K-State Sports Extra recently sat down with Romo to talk about his time so far building the Wildcat women’s soccer program.
Sports Extra: You’re not in a traditional assistant coach role since you and Coach Dibbini are beginning a program, but how has your time been since arriving here in March?
Gabe Romo: It’s been really, really busy, honestly. It’s been a lot of recruiting, camps, going through emails and making sure we cover every base we can because we’re trying to build this program. It’s pretty tough to try and build a program from the ground up, but there is a lot of buzz and a lot of excitement for the program and that is exciting. I love it here so far, I’m excited to be here and I can’t wait to get started. It’s going to be a long year, though.
SE: Is it difficult to kind of sit this fall out and wait a whole year to begin competition? 
GR: This is Coach Dibbini and my first ever fall where we don’t have a full team to coach. Right now we’re looking at all our friends and their teams are there and reporting, they’re starting practices, they have their equipment out there, and coach and I are here in the office. When you’re a coach, the fun part of it all is being out there and coaching, but for us, since the spring, it’s been a lot of office work. So it’s going to be a long year, but we’ve done camps and have stayed busy and have stayed in the game so we’re not rusty when we get out there. 
SE: You have a few players in town right now. What does your schedule with them look like?
GR: We are starting some training with our girls this month, but since we’re in a non-championship season, we only get eight hours total every week with them – six hours of strength and conditioning, then two hours a week with us with the ball. That will be kind of tough because we’re used to having two hours a day of practice. So it’s going to be different, but we just have to grind it out. 
SE: With your past at Kansas Wesleyan, do you feel you know this area pretty well?
GR: Yes definitely, and I think it helps. We already know the area, we know all the coaches, the high school coaches the club coaches, we know where to find the best players and we know where not to look. If we were hired and didn’t know the area, we wouldn’t have known where to recruit and where not to recruit. So it’s been great to know the area and be from around here. We both have great foundations here.
SE: How would you describe your coaching style?
GR: I work with the defense – the defensive midfield, the defensive line and the goalkeepers – and coach works with the forwards; he and I balance each other very well. He’s a very offensive-minded coach and I’m very defensive minded. So I keep him in check a little bit when he wants to throw numbers forward. We work well together there. My style is, what I’ve been told from my players at least, is that they love me off the field because of my personality, but on the field it’s a pretty intense environment. I demand a lot of my defenders and I hold them accountable. 
SE: K-State women’s soccer has already done quite a few community events. So after seeing a lot of this community, what do you think the vibe for soccer is in this town?
GR: I think after the last two World Cups, the men’s and, most recently, with the women winning the World Cup, I think soccer in Manhattan, and in our country really, has just blown up. I think the game is growing fast. Soccer is the world’s game. We’re the only country where soccer isn’t the No. 1 sport. Every other country you go and they just love it. But I think it’s really growing here. I think the city of Manhattan is starting to catch on; we get a lot of comments from parents that they’re so excited for it all. Everyone has been very welcoming. 
SE: Are there any plans in the future to continue integrating K-State soccer and the community?
GR: We will do some clinics and camps on campus if we can. We want to do something with Ft. Riley and its military kids, and when we finally have our stadium and a team, we’ll have kids from the youth clubs walk out with the players like they do in the World Cup. We love the community and the kids. We’re all about family, so I think that’s why Coach Dibbini and I have been a good fit for K-State. 
SE: Finally, what are your goals for this program?
GR: In 2016 we hope to put out a good product, and we hope to win. It’s very important that we win because we want to retain our fans. But, we also want to play an exciting style of soccer. We don’t want games to be boring. We want to play a style where we score goals. We are going to try to play an exciting style, get our fan base set and get the community on board. 
Then, hopefully by 2017 when we hit the Big 12, we’ll have a group of girls together who can compete. It’s a tough conference, but of course, we want to win the Big 12. Not saying it’s going to happen right away, but we’d like to bring that Big 12 trophy here.