Racking it up: Soccer coach scores National Coach of the Year

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By George Zhang, Co-Sports Editor With tens of thousands of high school soccer coaches in the United States, Conestoga soccer coach David Zimmerman was the one who took home the National Boys Soccer Coach of the Year award for large public high schools.  Organized by the United Soccer Coaches Association, the awards are given to...

By George Zhang, Co-Sports Editor

With tens of thousands of high school soccer coaches in the United States, Conestoga soccer coach David Zimmerman was the one who took home the National Boys Soccer Coach of the Year award for large public high schools. 

Organized by the United Soccer Coaches Association, the awards are given to soccer coaches in 23 different categories, ranging from college to youth soccer. The process to win the award starts off locally with a state and regional award, with the winners filling a pool of national qualifiers. Winning the award was a big surprise as well as a humbling experience for Zimmerman.  

“I don’t think anyone would expect to win such an award out of the whole country. It’s ultimately the greatest honor to be recognized by your peers. I was really humbled by the idea that the people you’re competing against and who are in the same positions as you, would choose you,” Zimmerman said. “I would have never dreamed that I could win an award like this.”  

Zimmerman has been coaching boys varsity soccer at Conestoga for twenty years, and has managed to win four state championships during his tenure. While his coaching career has been very successful, his main priority as a coach isn’t actually winning, it’s making sure that all of his players are happy. 

“My number one goal in terms of coaching is that the players have had a good experience. That above all else is the most important thing,” Zimmerman said. “That’s what high school sports are supposed to be like: it’s supposed to be great memories that you have for the rest of your life by playing with your classmates and competing.” 

Senior Jayce Tharnish believes that Zimmerman is a great coach and an even better person. Tharnish has been on the varsity team for two years and was a crucial part in the state championship run this season. 

“He’s hands down the best coach I’ve ever been coached by, and I feel like his actions on and off the field reflect on him as a person,” Tharnish said. “He views our team as a family, and he likes to build relationships with each player, which brings us all together and makes us one big family.” 

Senior Lorenzo Vargas-Clarke agrees.

“He’s so nice, he cares, he’s always doing everything for his team, he puts so much time out of his day to watch film. He gets to learn each and every single one of our players, and what’s going to fit our formula to get the win. He stays after practice, he gets there before school. He’s the best coach I’ve ever had, just because he puts so much more effort than any other coach I’ve ever seen,” Vargas-Clarke said.  

Being level-headed is another one of Zimmerman’s traits as a successful coach. Vargas-Clarke believes that the calm and collectedness that Zimmerman has sets him apart from other coaches. 

“He does not lose his temper, ever. Even if we’re losing by two or losing by one,” Vargas-Clarke said. “And he’s like, ‘the way we play, we will still win the game.’ And every single time we followed his rubric, we still won our games. 

Senior Alex Kornblatt agrees, saying that Zimmerman never lets his emotions get the best of him. 

“I think a lot of other coaches will be very vocal on the field, and not hide their anger towards the game. But one thing that’s super noticeable about (Zimmerman) is he hasn’t talked during the game, and he rarely ever yells at players on the field,” Kornblatt said. “It may seem super simple, but I feel like it has a much deeper meaning. He’s super meticulous, and he has a super detailed plan going in and out of each game. And he has faith in that plan so he’s not going to let his emotions get in the way of it and affect how he’s going to go about winning each game.” 

The praise goes both ways as Zimmerman thinks highly of the seniors and believes that they were the one of the greatest senior classes in the history of Conestoga. One piece of advice that he would like to share to them as they continue on the journey of their lives is to keep trusting the process. 

“I take my hat off to (the seniors). They’re a great group of guys who are incredibly fun to work with and to know as people. They’ll certainly be missed but they’ll never be forgotten,” Zimmerman said. “While I’m extremely proud of the fact that we won the state championship, I’m more proud of the way our players behave on and off the field and the kind of people that they are. So I think if I was going to advise them, I’d remind them to not forget that how you do things is just as important as what you end up doing.”


George Zhang can be reached at [email protected]

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