John Trask is well aware of what the University of Wisconsin men's soccer team he took over Wednesday has been through over the past three seasons.
The Badgers nearly made the NCAA tournament in 2008, only to once again miss out and see coach Jeff Rohrman let go. Then, after a promising 2009, coach Todd Yeagley left to take over at Indiana, his alma mater and the school where his father, Jerry, coached for 41 years.
That left the Badgers unexpectedly looking for someone to run the program yet again.
"I feel sorry for them," said Trask, a 43-year-old Milwaukee native who was unveiled as UW's coach after leaving Illinois-Chicago and signing a three-year contract. "You get four years to play college soccer; they're on their third coach in three years. But I can't correct that, and that's the first thing I talked to the players about. ... ‘I can't fix that, guys. All I can do is take you forward from here.' "
And Trask, who played collegiately at Indiana and began his coaching career - one that includes five years in Major League Soccer - as a graduate assistant at his alma mater in 1991, said he's not planning for that forward march to be slow.
He pointed to his five-year run at Illinois-Chicago, one that included four winning seasons and three NCAA appearances. The Flames, who were 54-24-26 under Trask, reached the Elite Eight in 2007, his third year in charge.
The Badgers haven't been to the NCAA tournament since winning the program's only national title in 1995.
"I'm here to try to help everybody win right now," he said. "I'm not looking at this as some five-year plan."
Former UW coach Jim Launder had applied for the position, and WisconsinSoccerCentral.com reported that UW-Green Bay coach Tom Poitras also interviewed for the job. Trask applied for the job the past two times it was open -- when Todd Yeagley was hired last year and when Rohrman got the job in 2002 -- but withdrew from consideration because the timing wasn't right, he said.
The Badgers, whose roster included eight seniors last fall, went 7-9-2 in Yeagley's lone year in charge. But UW's recruiting class, which includes 13 players, is highly regarded, and Trask, who will retain top assistant Keith Tiemeyer, was confident in his staff's ability to keep those recruits.
Tiemeyer and Yeagley, whom Trask began coaching when Yeagley was in high school, played a significant role in assuring him of the administration's level of commitment.
"I've gotten a very good sense that everything's in place," Trask said. "Now, I've just got to go out and recruit and start to change the culture a little bit."