Courtesy of MASCAC Sports Information
Adam Hildabrand drives 1.3 miles from home to work every day. As the head men's soccer coach for MCLA, it is living a dream. Little did he know when he first stepped on campus in 1995 as a bright-eyed freshman, that this was the place he would call home for over 20 years.
Coming out of high school, Hildabrand was recruited by then MCLA men's soccer coach Ron Shewcraft to play for the Trailblazers. During his four years on the team, they found a lot of success making it to the ECAC Tournament several times while getting a chance to be on the pitch with All-New England teammates.
It was during his four years on the team, one in which he was the team captain, that he realized his new passion following graduation.
"I had some great years under him (Coach Shewcraft)," Hildabrand said. "The experience was amazing and I took that with me into coaching. I want my players to have a quality experience like I had and I live by that every day when I am coaching."
Following graduation in 1999, an assistant position opened with the team and he jumped at the opportunity to continue learning under his mentor. As he continued his passion for coaching, Hildabrand did whatever it took to pay the bills. Working jobs in a local school, landscaping, construction and even as a Zamboni driver, he was determined to do anything to keep coaching.
When Coach Shewcraft announced his retirement, former MCLA Athletic Director Scott Nichols didn't look to far for his successor. With a handshake, hug and a job offer, Hildabrand became the sixth head men's soccer coach in school history. It was his time as an assistant though that prepared him for the next step in his career.
"Being the assistant coach for seven years gave me time to fail and figure out who I am," Hildabrand said. "It allowed me time to be corrected too. I always knew what I wanted to do. I told Coach my senior year that I wanted to do what he does. Even though he was retired, he went to all the games but would never offer advice unless I asked. He let me take over. Our relationship had a lot of phases from coach, to mentor and to now as a friend."
Since taking over the program in 2007, the Trailblazers have made it to the MASCAC Tournament five times with Hildabrand earning MASCAC Coach of the Year honors in 2008. He's coached several major award winners, including 2016 MASCAC Player of the Year Anthony Basile and 2013 MASCAC Rookie of the Year Dylan Pereira along with countless MASCAC All-Conference honorees.
Despite all the wins, losses and awards, there is a deeper meaning to the game and what it teaches the student-athletes that Hildabrand wants to drive home each day.
"The MCLA way is the culture of family," Hildabrand said. "Being able to rely on the guy standing next to you. After each game whether we win or lose, we ask were we a family today. Did we treat each other with respect? That is the imprint I hope to leave once I am gone. It has to be something more than the game."
While soccer and his job as the Intramurals Coordinator on campus may take up a lot of his time, his family is number one to him. He is married to former MCLA softball student-athlete Kristen Parzych who Hildabrand easily says "is the more athletic of the two of them". When he isn't spending time with Parzych and their three kids, he loves to go fly fishing with Western Massachusetts offering many wonderful options for it.
With four years as a student-athlete and 10 seasons at the helm of the Trailblazers' men's soccer program, Hildabrand has seen many changes in soccer in the MASCAC and New England. From a higher level of competition, more college support for athletics and a larger emphasis on recruiting, he has seen many advancements in the game.
"The MASCAC has changed where from top to bottom anyone can beat anyone," Hildabrand said. "That is one of our strengths. You never know what is going to happen when you look at the results each week. The student-athletes look at the results and think we can beat them next year. It gives them hope and drives competitiveness."
His time at MCLA has been a dream for Hildabrand. Ever since he first arrived on campus, he has loved every minute of his experience as a Trailblazer. Looking back on his time as a student-athlete and where he is today, he wrote the script on exactly what he wanted his life to be.