The Team as Family: Clayton Coach Builds Wins by Supporting Personalities, Developing Talents

Girls soccer coach challenges players to live up to athletic potential, produces eight winning seasons in 10 years.

Belief in the inevitability of success is a starting point for success in any varsity sports program.

Clayton High School Greyhounds girls soccer coach Paul Hoelscher sets goals that his athletes have consistently lived up to. Since taking the reins of the girls program 10 years ago, Hoelscher has led the team to eight winning campaigns.

“You just have to be consistent and have high expectations,” Hoelscher said. “The kids at Clayton are hardworking, bright and mature, however, many of them have not been challenged athletically to achieve their own potential. We try to tap their talents and support their unique personalities.”

Clayton finished the 2011 season with an 11-7 overall record. The Greyhounds won the Suburban East Conference with a perfect 3-0 record in the league. Clayton has won the SEC three times in the last four years and won a district championship in 2009.

Hoelscher said the girls who play in the program talk about their time on the team as “one of their most special periods in high school.”

“We don’t always have the most talented players, but we try to create a supportive and caring environment,” Hoelscher said. “Like many other coaches, we talk about the team as a family and try to bring everyone together before, during and after the season. It’s easy for coaches to use cliques, but I’ve kept the job because the girls get along very well and buy into the idea of getting better every day.”

The Greyhounds have quality players returning next year. Sophomore forward Meg
Sutter finished the 2011 campaign with 14 goals and 13 assists. Sophomore midfielder Christina DeFelice and junior midfielder Karley Woods both netted seven goals.

“Meg is a great player,” Hoelscher said. “She has wonderful footwork and distributes the ball well. Meg has played competitive soccer and has a high soccer IQ."

He said, "We also have two players coming back after injuries–Allison O’Neal and Amanda Wagner. Both started as freshmen on the team that won a district title, had good sophomore years and were injured their junior season. Christina DeFelice is a junior that had a great season as a sophomore and may really make the difference in close games because she plays so hard."

"Karley Woods is a four years starter--quick, responsible, and difficult to remark. She will have a great senior year,” Hoelscher said.

Although he’s certainly had his share of winning seasons, Hoelscher doesn’t know his overall record.

“Each season is different, and we try to win more than we lose,” he said. “Sometimes coaches get into individual stats, and I’m not sure that it helps the kids.”

Hoelscher played soccer in high school at DeSmet Jesuit High School. He coached in East Africa at Lake Secondary School in Tanzania and was an assistant coach at Parkway South for three years.

James Mense June 19, 2011 at 02:38 PM
Next year's team will be formidable. Two other players of note are in-coming sophomores Julia Tommason and Marilyn Gund.


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