April 2, 2018, Trev Alberts slides behind the podium, then Vice Chancellor of Athletics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is ready to announce the Mavericks’ newest head coach of the men’s soccer program, Bob Warming.
After seven program defining seasons under Jay Mims, who now coaches USL League One side Union Omaha down the road, the torch was passed to another well-known face in the Nebraska soccer community.
Warming was to be the second head coach in program history, but he is plenty prepared for the new challenge.
He has spent over 40 years coaching college men’s soccer, with almost half of that in the city of Omaha, with Creighton. After taking the helm in 1990, Warming turned the Bluejays into a powerhouse over the next decade. He took two different teams to the College Cup, an honor he shared with just one other head coach and ranks third among active coaches for all-time wins in NCAA Division I.
After returning to Creighton for a second stint in 2001-2009, he became the winningest coach in program history.
Mims, who built the Omaha program from the ground up, credits much of his success to skills he learned during his time as an assistant coach under Warming at both Creighton and Penn State.
With Mims’ sights then set for an academy director position in MLS, the door was left open for his former mentor to take the reins.
“I don’t know very many people that have moved to the same city three times,” Warming said after moving back to Omaha for his job in 2018.
But he moved into a different Omaha, one that had progressed and grown since he last departed.
In a state that can now boast higher attendance numbers for its high school state soccer championships than its football championships, the city was more ready than ever to welcome him back.
“He came back because Omaha has been a community that has embraced him,” Jonathan Collura said.
Collura owns Bugeaters FC, a Nebraska based semi-professional side who offers an offseason option to college players around the state looking to continue their growth.
Bugeaters FC, founded in December 2017, has helped develop six different players into professionals, now playing across the globe.
“My club has very close connections with the University of Nebraska Omaha,” he said. “And he (Warming) has put some fantastic talent on that pitch.”
Since his hire, Warming has continued to improve. Last season, he took the Mavericks to their second NCAA tournament, and first since 2017.
After upsetting No. 23 UNC-Greensboro in its opening game, Omaha fell in the second round to No. 4 Stanford 1-0.
One of the reasons the Mavericks’ front office was eager to hire Warming back was his ability to grow talent into the professional level. He has had a player drafted into MLS every year but one since its inception in 1996.
“He has always been able to develop talent in two ways, both on and off the pitch,” Collura said. “It’s his character, his coaching style, and his public outreach that has helped develop that level of player.”
In total, Warming has seen more than 60 of his former players reach the professional level.
Part of that success has been his willingness to live on the forefront of developmental technology. At UNO, Warming has taken advantage of a brand-new video board for players to watch their performances in real time, apps that track each players movement and progress with each training session, and other new advancements that had not been made available in previous seasons.
“You have to constantly be trying to provide an environment where players have the opportunity to obtain things that they’ve never obtained before,” Warming said of bringing out the best in his players. “And that is a big, big challenge in coaching as it evolves.”
After departing Creighton for the second time in 2009, he found a unique opportunity at Penn State, to coach and develop his own son, Grant who played under his dad from 2010-2013.
“(Being coach’s kid) you got something to prove,” Grant Warming said. “More so than the typical student athlete, I understood that going in, and I embraced it.”
His college trajectory unfolded like so many other of his dad’s previous players. Success doesn’t happen immediately but putting in the time and hard work will eventually pay off.
After only a few appearances through his freshman and sophomore seasons, Grant felt that headed into his junior year it was finally the time he got his shot as a starter, and then eventually a team captain.
In both 2012 and 2013, Penn State won back-to-back Big Ten Championships, contributing to the now 28 conference titles Bob Warming has won.
When Bob Warming got the call to return to Omaha in 2018, Grant followed, this time joining as an assistant coach.
“He’s very open to new ideas, and constantly learning himself,” Grant Warming said about his dad’s coaching style. “He approaches coaching from a student mindset.”
It is that sort of flexibility that has guided Warming to 35 winning seasons, 28 conference titles, and twice named the National Head Coach of the Year.
That success on the pitch, continues to be fueled by his relationships off the pitch.
“Anybody who has known, worked with or played for Bob has this has a fantastic opinion of him,” Collura said. “Genuine would be the best way to put it, a genuine figure and ambassador.”
Just like Warming molds his teams towards the players, he aims to mold individuals into more than just athletes.
“Just a great leader and a great man,” Grant Warming said. “Upholding these morals and values throughout his career, all while being one of the winningest coaches in college soccer, I think that’s remarkable.”
Alongside mentoring players, Bob continues to be a coach that focuses on his community.
Whether that means giving soccer cleats to disadvantaged kids, or conducting free coaching clinics, his squads have left lasting impacts in the areas they have served.
And that will be Bob Warming’s legacy. A winner with longevity, and a mentor that led so many into becoming great soccer players, but more importantly led so many into becoming great human beings.
When asked about his favorite coaching memory, Bob only uttered “the next one.”
The next breakthrough in practice. The next laugh in a training session. The next conference championship. The next retiring professional, reaching out to express the impact his coach had on his career. Warming lives to be there, for all of it.
“He is the face of the game in the state of Nebraska,” Collura said.
A fitting face, in a state known for the kindness of its people.