Swanton will look for some stability for its boys soccer program as Joe Hensley takes over as head coach this fall. He was promoted from his role as assistant coach, a position he held the last two seasons.
Hensley, 37, was approved at a school board meeting in May.
“For the last several seasons Joe has worked as the assistant varsity boys soccer coach at Swanton High School. In that time, Joe has been incredibly dedicated and a hardworking member of the Swanton athletic family,” said Swanton Athletic Director Wade Haselman. “That hard work coupled with his vast knowledge about soccer made the decision easy. We wanted Joe to lead our soccer program into the future.”
The new coach has lived in Swanton for the past 12 years. He grew up in the area and graduated from Anthony Wayne in 1998.
Although being a head coach will be an unfamiliar experience for him, he has much soccer coaching experience. Hensley has coached for Swanton Rec and GNAT Soccer Club, otherwise known as Springfield Futbol Club, out of Holland. He currently coaches for Pacesetter Soccer Club, which he states is one of the best clubs in the state.
He hopes his knowledge of soccer will rub off on the Bulldogs this season.
“(I want) to teach the boys everything I know about the game and also to help the program move in a positive direction,” stated Hensley on why he wanted the job.
Because of his love of the game, Hensley is confident Swanton picked the right man for the job.
“I am very passionate about this game and love teaching the boys the right way to play this game,” he said.
New coaches in any sport usually will want to make changes from the previous regime. Hensley is no different.
While the Bulldogs went 12-4-1 in 2016 under previous coach Rob Upham, they took a step back this past season going 2-12-2. So the motivation to improve is there.
“We need to play as team, our structure is going to change on how we attack and defend,” explained Hensley. “We have to be disciplined on both sides of the ball.”
Hensley will emphasize having a more balanced offensive attack.
“Hoping to have more players be involved in scoring goals and not depend on 1 or 2 players being the goal scorers,” said the first-year coach.
In terms of if he is ready for the challenge of being a head coach, Hensley points to his recent coaching experiences.
“I love this game and have been around great coaches at Pacesetter Soccer Club,” he said. “I have learned so much about the game from them.”
As an assistant for the program the past two seasons, Hensley has had the opportunity of coaching his son. Riley Hensley scored 18 goals combined over his freshman and sophomore seasons, and was first team All-Northwest Ohio Athletic League and honorable mention all-district in 2017.
“It is a blessing to be able to coach my son Riley,” said Hensley. “We do have a rule that when he is on the field I’m coach, not dad. So keeping that separate is important. I’m really looking forward to next year (2019) where I will be able to coach Riley and his younger brother Ethan.”
The coach isn’t guaranteeing instant success out of the Bulldogs. His goals are just for them to work as hard as they can, then see where they are at season’s end.
“Our goals for the season are to win as many games as possible and to hopefully be able to contend with Liberty Center and Archbold for the league title,” stated Hensley.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010