May 19, 2023
By Braxton Robinson, sophomore
Magazine Extras for Spring 2023 Mars Hill: The Magazine
It only took four years for former MHU soccer standout Gregg Munn (class of 2014) to take a struggling soccer team that had experienced very little success for at least five years, and coach it into a winning team that, in the 2022, came within one goal of the SAC Championship. Perhaps even more importantly, he has led the team to a culture of pride and mental resilience that, players say, has set them up for a winning future.
Munn was a standout player for Mars Hill from 2011 to 2014. The native of Scotland received many personal and team awards that helped influence and drive his coaching philosophy. In his four years as a player at Mars Hill, Munn received the following accolades: First Team All-SAC Defender (2012), Capital One Academic All-District Team (2012), NCCSIA All-State First Team Defender (2012), SAC All-Tournament Team Defender and Second Team All-SAC Defender (2013). As an integral defender during his time playing at Mars Hill, Munn put pride in clean sheets (conceding no goals) and defending his team. Gregg led the lions for two back-to-back seasons, one in which they made it all the way to the round of 16 of the National Tournament. As a player, Gregg accomplished many goals that players today look at in awe. Even today, Gregg still takes pride in the defensive performances he had as a player.
In his first season as coach, Munn used lockdown defensive performances to push the season along. With influential players like Brennan Whalen and Jeppe Christensen, Gregg was able to start his first season off performing better than previous seasons. The season prior to Gregg’s takeover, the Lions held a record of 5-8-2. With a slightly better record his first season of 6-7-2, Gregg would set the Lions onto a new direction that would see much success in the following years.
When asked about the team culture from then to now, Gregg says, “It’s night and day, it’s still not perfect by any means but we are now a competitive program with many things I am proud of. When I took the job this was not the case, there was no positive culture.” Gregg’s overhaul of the team has shown progress over the past few years. Since taking over the Lions, Gregg has won the “Coach of the Year” award twice, which acknowledges not only his winning ways, but also how he has shifted the team dynamic.
Gregg’s attitude toward clean sheets and defensive performances is expressed almost daily in training. Coach Munn uses his prior playing experience to guide practice each day. “Naturally, my thought will be to set up a team to be solid defensively as that is the main job of a defender. Being good defensively is a trademark of a championship level team.” Coach Munn sees defense as the key to winning championships and uses this to propel the current Lions team. In addition to his playing experience, Coach Munn’s tactics and coaching style is heavily influenced by his former coach at Mars Hill. He says, “The coach who recruited me to Mars Hill was unbelievable. He was relentless and a winner, he bred champions and a winning mentality.” Coach Munn pushes his team to reach new potentials and high standards.
Current defender Chase Jordan, says, “Coach loves working with the defense in practice, especially when we split into position groups. He pushes us to take pride in what we do and makes us more confident in doing it.” He continued, “Coach makes it known that he helped lead the team to the National Tournament, and how his presence in the back line was influential to this success. He always makes the comment that ‘goals will win games, but defense will win titles.’ And he’s not wrong and we have to take that with us every game and every training we have.”
The past 2022 season saw a tough preseason against Furman University, High Point University, and Milligan College, followed by a strong conference season in the Southern Atlantic Conference. Gregg coached the team to the first round of conference tournament, where the team fell to the Wingate Bulldogs, who would go on to win the conference. Gregg and the Lions ended the season with a record of 8-7-2, scoring 28 goals and conceding 19. In comparison, Gregg led the Lions to a conference final and ended the 2021 season with a record of 11-6-3, scoring 43 goals and conceding 31.
The team Gregg has put together is one recognized as successful on the Mars Hill campus. Many coaches look up to his resilience and his leadership and have adopted his mentality. Gregg has paved the way for future members of this program both as a coach and as a player. It is through his passion for the sport and his love for Mars Hill that Gregg has helped bring this team to glory and he’s not stopping anytime soon. Gregg Munn’s players admire him and see him as the symbol for pride and the true definition of a Mars Hill Lion.