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Stefanie Golan sat at her computer to take questions for the first time as Missouri’s soccer coach Wednesday.

During the session, the St. Charles native and Francis Howell North alumna let out a “Go Knights” for her alma mater and asked for restaurant recommendations in Columbia, while also looking ahead to managing her team and looking forward to her first season back in the Show-Me State.

Golan takes over as just the second coach in program history following Bryan Blitz’s retirement.

“I’ve known Coach Blitz since I was a kid,” Golan said. “I spoke with him throughout the process. … I’m excited that he’s going to be a fan. When things get a little crazy, I have a sounding board and stuff, but he really is pretty hands-off. If I reach out, he’s absolutely willing to have those conversations, but he is not trying to insert himself at all.”

Blitz did leave a gift for one of Golan’s sons.

“Max is really excited because he left a tiger tail that he can hit people with, so that’s the added bonus,” she added.

Blitz led the Tigers for all 25 years of the program’s existence before stepping down in April. For Golan, the main aim is to continue to build on the blocks that Blitz has been adding on since he started the team.

“I think that the greatest quality of the program that he’s left is their grittiness,” Golan said. “They’re willing to battle and grind and fight, scrap and claw. We’re gonna continue to build upon that. We’re not looking to turn anything on its head,” she added. “We’re looking to build off of the great qualities that already exist and then take it to the next step.”

Golan joins the Tigers’ program after nine seasons with Minnesota. She is the second-winningest coach in the Golden Gophers’ history and is looking forward to the challenges that she will face in the unfamiliar waters of SEC soccer.

“(The) new challenge of competing against different coaching styles, different systems of play, that’s fun as a coach,” Golan said. “It’s all a chess match, and getting to match up with some unfamiliar opponents makes it a lot more fun.”

The Missouri job is a bit of a homecoming for Golan. The native of the state’s first capital is looking forward to coaching at the state’s flagship school.

“I’ve always said that there’s two really special jobs that you can have in college coaching,” Golan said. “One is your alma mater. The other one is the marquee program in the state you grew up in, and this is that for me. So I’m super excited.”

Golan also set out her two main objectives for the rest of the summer before the season kicks off.

“My first couple of things (are) one — recruiting. We gotta make sure we stay on top of that and make sure we don’t fall behind,” Golan said. “Then, two is making sure that everybody who’s within the program is on the same page before we hit the ground running in August.”

But as she prepares for her first season at the helm of Missouri soccer and juggles recruiting and building her team, Golan is looking to get back to feeling at home in the state she grew up in.

“I hope to get some Imo’s Pizza here pretty soon and really feel like I’m home,” she said.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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