By Matt Park, UA Communication Services
Arizona cornerbacks coach David Lockwood is no stranger to the pressures and demands of coaching at a major program.
In his 24 years of coaching, Lockwood has been in charge of the secondary at numerous high-level programs, including West Virginia, Minnesota and Notre Dame.
During these tenures, Lockwood’s units have accomplished several defensive feats, such as leading the Big East in interceptions at West Virginia in 2007 and recording the best turnover margin in the nation at Minnesota in 2006.
Just last year in Lockwood’s first season, Arizona cornerback Shaquille Richardson ranked 17th nationally in pass deflections.
And heading into Thursday night’s game against USC, the Wildcats are tied for third in the Pac-12 in interceptions with seven despite the Wildcats having played fewer games than the two teams that have recorded more picks.
“A lot of the players have a year under our system,” Lockwood said. “They understand now what is expected of them from the coaching staff. But having that year of maturity is huge because it gives them the experience and time to develop leadership skills.”
To further illustrate Lockwood’s coaching ability, his teams have appeared in 12-consecutive bowl games, a streak that he plans to continue this season.
“It doesn’t matter how much talent you have,” Lockwood said. “If that talent doesn’t come together then what good comes out of it? It takes 11 guys coming together. It’s the ones that do a good job bonding and coming together on and off the field that go on to do well.”
Lockwood is a guru when it comes to the secondary because of his experience as a player and coach but in particular, it’s his desire to teach young adults the Bear Down spirit that earns the respect and devotion of his players.
Lockwood’s passion can be seen through the relationships with his football players but another relationship that reveals this attitude is with an Arizona soccer player, his daughter and sophomore defender Autumn Lockwood.
“He has always been a coach to me,” Autumn said. “Yes, he’s my dad, but like any coach, he’s always criticizing me, giving me feedback and telling me what I need to do.”
Coach Lockwood has also benefitted from having Autumn in the same athletic department.
“It’s actually a special experience,” Coach Lockwood said. “It’s tough to make certain events because of our busy schedule but having her in the same athletic department has given me unique opportunities. In-between classes, she visits me and we talk, and when I can, I’m able to go and watch her play.”
For Autumn, the ability to talk to her father in-person has been a valuable asset, especially during her first year as a collegiate athlete.
“Having him be a coach has really helped me,” Autumn said. “Because without him during my freshman year, I don’t know where I’d be right now with soccer.”
Every season, Coach Lockwood witnesses the struggle of many freshmen student-athletes adjusting to the collegiate level but he also aims to channel their frustrations in a positive direction. Last year, his daughter was also going through the same type of emotions as his players, leading Coach Lockwood to gain a different perspective.
“When you get around your players, you realize what they’re going through,” Coach Lockwood said. “As you treat them, you sit back a minute, because you realize you’re preaching to somebody else’s kid. I realized that I needed to do that same thing with my own kid.”
Autumn was a three-year soccer letterwinner at University High School in Morgantown, W.Va. She was named West Virginia Girls All-Star Most Valuable Player, first-team all-state and was voted Co-Defender of the Year in 2012, along with other various awards.
Upon arrival at the University of Arizona, Autumn joined the soccer program and redshirted her freshman year.
“It was tough,” Autumn said. “Every freshman goes through being homesick from the transition of being thrown into a big-time program. The transition was difficult to get used to at an elite program.”
As Autumn entered her freshman year and engaged in collegiate competition for the first time, she felt the high level of soccer to be frustrating at times. From significant playing time in high school to becoming a redshirt freshman, Autumn turned to her father for advice.
“The biggest hurdle was trying to get her to realize what it was like to play at this level,” Coach Lockwood said. “I told her, ‘Autumn, this isn’t high school. You can’t go days without doing anything; you have to do something every day, mentally and physically. Whether it’s juggling the ball or working on footwork, the only way to improve is by doing it every day. Everyone here was the best player in high school’.”
Autumn gradually took in her father’s words and applied it to her work ethic. A year later, she shares the same perspective as her father.
“No matter how well I play now,” Autumn said, “I’m always seeking improvement. I’m never satisfied, and I’m constantly looking for things that I can do better.”
Autumn’s learning experience with her father will allow her to be a helpful resource for many of her teammates. There are currently 13 freshmen on the 2013 Arizona soccer team, and each one of them will experience their own personal obstacles similar to Autumn’s, which gives her the opportunity to help the newcomers with their transitions into the collegiate level.
“We’re all in this thing together,” Coach Lockwood said. “That’s what it’s all about. Like Coach [Rich] Rodriguez has said, it would be nice to win the Pac-12 and Rose Bowl, but it takes the entire community to do it.”