Patience and Determination pays off

Isaac Sierra


Shouting commands from the sideline, instructor Hoa Nguyen is determined to bring his JV team to a victory against the powerhouse, East Kentwood. Only leading by one goal, each second feels like an hour as the second half comes to a close. The final whistle finally blows, the score WO 2, EK 1. Nguyen has been coaching soccer for many years, and his determination and intense style has made him the perfect fit for the job. Next year, Nguyen is taking his coaching career to the next level. He will be the Varsity coach for West Ottawa. Although this may seem like a minor feat, Nguyen has worked extremely hard to get to this position.

 Initially, Nguyen aspired to be an engineer. He had skill in the sciences, and he was talented in math. However, due to encouragement from his wife (then girlfriend), he changed his career ambitions to teaching due to his passion for instructing people. “I started coaching during my first year of teaching for West Ottawa in 1996. Back then, the middle school program was through Park Township. Eventually, West Ottawa took over the program from Park Township and I was able to fill in as the 8th grade Middle School Coach for the boys and girls teams,” Nguyen said. Simultaneously teaching and coaching, Nguyen certainly had a lot on his plate even back in 1996. Nguyen had no idea that in 20 years he would become the Varsity soccer coach for WO.

 After coaching 8th grade soccer for a few years, Nguyen advanced to become the Freshman coach for boys and girls. After displaying his hard work and positive team performance, he became the JV coach for boys and girls. He continued to coach JV soccer for over 10 years but something unexpected happened in 2015. Brent Wyckoff, the boys’ and girls’ varsity coach, stepped down from his coaching position for boys’. The last minute move forced the WO soccer program to make a decision fast. Nguyen knew it had to be him. He had been teaching at WO for almost 20 years and he had been the JV coach for more than 10. Nguyen was ready to finally claim the position as Varsity coach. Then, just as Nguyen’s hopes began to soar, the unexpected happened: the Freshman coach, Eli Lopez, was chosen as the next Varsity coach. “I was very disappointed for not being selected as the Varsity coach last year after 16 years of coaching soccer at West Ottawa.  Even though I was frustrated, I am committed to the program and the program is bigger than just one person.  I decided to do the right thing and stay as the JV coach for West Ottawa and support the team,” Nguyen said. Many would quit if placed in this same situation, and yet Nguyen did not. It took a tremendous amount of dedication for Nguyen to continue as JV coach despite his situation.

 After another year of coaching JV to the best of his ability, Nguyen was not going to get his hopes up this time, despite his incredible season. However, WO soccer was thrown another curveball when Lopez resigned his position as coach and moved to Texas. This time, there was no doubt in Nguyen’s mind who would get the job. Sure enough, after 16 years of coaching, Nguyen received verification that he would be the next boys’ Varsity coach. “I am excited to be selected as the new Varsity coach. I really appreciate the many kind words of encouragement from friends and family. I am ecstatic at the high number of talented players playing for the team next year and hoping they will work hard at training with me throughout the summer to be a premier team in the state,” Nguyen said.

 Becoming a Varsity coach in any sport is no easy process, and after almost 20 years of working for WO, Nguyen definitely earned his position as boys’ Varsity coach. He has already taken measures to bring the players together by creating a Google Classroom page for WO soccer players, and he plans to start rigorous training for the fall season starting the first week after school gets out in June. Maybe Nguyen is just who the program needs to perform well next season.