The Coach

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This past season marked the end of an era with the soccer program at Dordt.

Current women’s soccer coach Bill Elgersma announced this would be his last on the sideline.

For 12 seasons Bill roamed the sidelines guiding the women’s program and he was with the men’s program for nine years by my count.  Add in the three years his wife Jeanie served as women’s head coach and he was an assistant, whether official or not, I have him coaching in 451 total Dordt soccer games.

Throw in his time as a player, and, well, it seems like he’s been a fixture with Defender soccer forever.

He was a student at Dordt the same time my sisters were here.

I crossed paths with him a few more times when I was in college working construction and he was delivering supplies for the local lumberyard to make ends meet, and, because he had to keep moving and stay busy.

And now I’ve worked on and off with him in some way since 2001.  I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that he will miss the practices more than the games.

Practices, where the real work is done.  I can hear him saying it.

The two hours each day during the fall that he would coax everything out of the unit he had to work with.

And he did pretty well in the games too.  A 123-101-9 women’s head coaching record and a 96-57-12 men’s record.  Not too bad indeed.

And he served as a mentor and adviser off the field.  Make no mistake about it.  Anything you got from coach Elgersma you had to earn. 

Playing time, respect, grades. 

Earn it.

And so, with the season now over, I asked Suzanne Kofroth to write about her time with coach Elgersma.  Some will remember her as Suzanne Clark from the early 2000s. 

The only woman in Dordt soccer history to claim all-American status, took the time to write about the impact Bill had on her.

Coach Elgersma, I’m hoping you understand there are many more out there who could have written something similar to this piece.

To borrow one of your favorite phrases.

Well done.

mbyk

 

The fall of 2002; I was a senior in high school, enjoying a weekend away at a club soccer tournament; the last club soccer tournament that I would play in. Coach Elgersma had come to watch.

I remember sitting by the concession stand between games and ordering chili and a giant pickle for “lunch”. Coach sat at the table, mind blown that this was my choice of food between games. This is my first recollection of meeting Coach Elgersma.

The winter of 2003, Superbowl Sunday to be exact; my dad and I would travel the 500 miles, venture from the suburbs of Milwaukee, to the cornfields of Sioux Center, Iowa. I was visiting Dordt College, to see if this was a place to call home for the next four years.

I stayed in Covenant Hall, hosted by another soccer player. The details are faint, but the impression that the institution made on me and my dad won’t ever be forgotten. We returned home, and my mom had asked how the visit had gone.

We talked and talked and talked and by the end of the evening, my mom told my dad; “that’s where she’s going to go”. The way that we had talked, the excitement in our voices about the visit was the affirmation that this is where God was leading me. Mom and Dad’s baby girl was headed to Dordt.

Mom and Dad’s baby girl was headed to Dordt.

A few more visits from the Dordt admissions office, and from Coach Elgersma during our Spring high school season; I don’t recall when I made the decision. Times were a lot simpler back then. There was no fanfare in college decisions; no signings, no social media to make announcements.

I don’t even know how I even accepted the scholarship or expressed my intentions of calling Dordt home for my college years.

I arrived on campus the Fall of 2003; being a fall athlete gives you the luxury of moving into campus early for preseason and getting your bearings before classes start. I had the comfort of having another high school classmate and teammate playing soccer, so I at least knew someone, but being so far away from my family was tough.

Four-a-day practices started right up, and a group of individuals came together, the Dordt Women’s Soccer team. Coach Elgersma would lead a group of women from all over the country to achieve not only excellence and perfection on the pitch, but further develop each individual’s character.

Coach Elgersma would lead a group of women from all over the country to achieve not only excellence and perfection on the pitch, but further develop each individual’s character.

With each season that came and went, we were a team, but more importantly, we were family. And the leader of that family, to make Dordt feel like home, to share in the jubilations of victory and the sorrow of defeat, was Coach Elgersma.

Dordt provided the opportunity for me to be a student in the classroom first, then a student on the pitch, but Coach Elgersma was more interested in the group of women becoming a team, pushing us to our full potential and all working together to achieve a common goal. He reminded us that while we may not be the most talented, hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard. And that’s what we did; we put in hard work. And the scrappy Defenders pulled off some victories because of it.

My senior year, while our senior-heavy roster fell short of expectations on the pitch, the personal development outweighs the wins/losses recorded throughout the year. Looking back, that year was a year of personal development; mental toughness, personal integrity, personal ownership.

My senior year, while our senior-heavy roster fell short of expectations on the pitch, the personal development outweighs the wins/losses recorded throughout the year. Looking back, that year was a year of personal development; mental toughness, personal integrity, personal ownership.

All of which are important facets of life that go beyond the game and can be incorporated into ones life outside of college and athletics. It is through losing that you are faced with overcoming adversity, and you must carry on and clear the hurdles, thus increasing the level of confidence in yourself, and others.

Coach Elgersma, through my time at Dordt, and being a part of a team, I learned so much more than soccer from you. You valued my input, gave me ample opportunities to independently make decisions and adjustments, gave me the opportunity to be in a leadership position, all of which led to personal development and more confidence.

You were there for me more than words can ever do justice, provided support, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and displayed so much love when my world came crashing down with my father’s unexpected passing.

Through Dordt and my time on the field, you instilled in me hard work, teamwork and discipline, all of which are key to succeed in work and life, and things I still carry with me to this day.

And you know what?

We had fun along the way too!

Being a college athlete is hard; time management is imperative. But what you gain from being a college athlete is far more than anything I could have expected.

Being a college athlete is hard; time management is imperative. But what you gain from being a college athlete is far more than anything I could have expected.

While there may be no more “bloody crossbars” or “poorly and wells” analysis in Coach’s future, on behalf of the past players you had an impact on, from His Word, Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant.

Your players are all richer for the impact that you had on us; God has blessed us with the love that you showed us each and every day.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for believing in me, being an earthly example of Christ’s love, and providing the opportunity to gain personal development under your strong leadership. I wouldn’t trade my years at Dordt for anything!

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