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The next coach for the Palmyra boys soccer program is pretty recognizable.
With his hire officially approved at last Thursday’s Palmyra School District board meeting, Jerry Hoffsmith begins a second tenure with the Cougars.
Hoffsmith was about as successful as any coach can be in his first tenure, leading Palmyra to a PIAA state title in 2007 – but that would be his only season, as Hoffsmith then left the program to accept another coaching position.
“I don’t think Jerry realized what all went into being a head coach,” Palmyra athletic director Brian Weidler told GameTimePA.com last Friday. “At that time he was still running his business, Colonial Craft Kitchens. Now that his son is more involved in the business, he has more time on his hands.”
With that, Hoffsmith is ready for a fresh start.
“I’m excited about it,” Hoffsmith said. “I think the timing is right with my work situation, and I’m ready to go. I’ve got more freedom now.”
Hoffsmith also assured Weidler of his long-term commitment.
“I certainly understand that,” Hoffsmith said. “I’m willing to hang around and be here to mentor some younger guys as well and teach them what I know about the game.”
During the interview process, the players had a voice in helping chose their next coach, having the ability to meet with each of the three final candidates who were up for the position.
Despite the past, their choice was Hoffsmith, who had served as a volunteer coach under his now predecessor AJ Hull.
“That wasn’t brought up at all,” Hoffsmith said. “I had been an assistant coach for every player in that room in the last three years. The chemistry has been built over that. They know I’m genuine and I care about them.”
In fact, Hoffsmith thinks his already comfortable relationship with the players can lead to history repeating itself.
“A lot of the team dynamic is very reminiscent of 2007,” Hoffsmith said. “You have some highly skilled players with good attitudes and great work ethic. That sets you up for success.”
At the same time, though, Hoffsmith says the path won’t be easy.
“I don’t know how to be a winner without working extremely hard,” he said. “I’ll give them 100 percent all the time, and I expect the same in return. There is no hierarchy. The only way to success is work together. I like to let the game be the teacher as well. They need to know what each other is thinking. We also need to play fast and proficient on the ball, be mentally quick and physically fit.”
As far as what the team will look like from a formation standpoint, Hoffsmith says that’s going to take some time.
“We need to see where people fit,” Hoffsmith said. “I've got to see who emerges as strikers to see how many we can put up, as well as our strength in the midfield to determine what it’s going to look like.”
As reported last week, Hoffsmith’s coaching staff is expected to include former players from the 2007 team, including Brett Jankouskas, who’s currently a member of the Harrisburg City Islanders, and Tom Brandt, who played for the University of Pennsylvania.
However, Hoffsmith cautions nothing is set in stone yet, as he is now trying see if everyone’s schedules work to have a full commitment to the season.
Hoffsmith said, “I have not talked to Brett yet. I didn’t want to say too much going into the interview process. I texted him what he’d be doing in fall, so I did reach out to him. I have talked to Tom Brandt. With his job he can do evenings, so I will opt to take evening practices. I’ve reached out to Brooks Thomas, a teacher in high school, to talk through some things, and he will continue to be the JV coach.”
But Hoffsmith hopes to finalize everything soon.
He said, “I’ll be doing that in the very near future so we can start talking about things and developing what we’ll do.”