Brinker Returns to Coaching
By SCOTT BAKER
For The Express
Central Mountain girl’s soccer has fallen upon hard times over the course of the last few years. A once proud program now finds wins extremely hard to come by. In the past two seasons under the direction of departed head coach Cole Black, CM won just five games in 2017 and two games in 2018.
Looking to turn the page from the struggles of the past few seasons, Central Mountain administration has turned to a familiar name in the local soccer world, Jeff Brinker. Brinker comes to the helm of the CM girl’s soccer program with a considerable amount of coaching experience on his resume as he previously served as head coach of the Bald Eagle Nittany girl’s program for four seasons, CM junior high girl’s head coach for thirteen seasons and most recently as the CM varsity boys head coach for five seasons.
Brinker spent the 2018 fall season away from coaching after all coaching positions in Keystone Central were opened due to contractual and budget issues.
During his time away from the field, Brinker found himself getting involved in something quite new to him, politics. Yes, this is the same Jeff Brinker that successfully ran a write-in campaign to be the Republican candidate for mayor of Lock Haven in the November general election.
Recently Brinker was asked a series of questions relative to his return to coaching and his goals for the girl’s program at CM as well as how it all can work with his political aspirations.
He stated that his reason for returning to coaching after just one season was pretty simple; it was his love of the game of soccer and the passion that he has to coach. Assuredly, Brinker is stepping into a challenging position. He will be CM’s third head girl’s soccer coach in four years. Therefore, he is aware of the challenges that lie ahead but seems undaunted by them.
Asked about what he feels are the greatest challenges facing him and the CM program he stated, “With every new program, I think the biggest challenge a new coach can face is having everyone buy into the new vision. For example, I will be the third head coach the seniors have had during their high school years. This can be tough on kids or anyone for that matter. I understand that. But I have seen a lot of good responses from the girls already this summer during preseason workouts. And I am excited how the girls are already starting to see what I am trying to instill within the program.” Hired in late June,
Brinker is getting a very late jump on things in terms of off-season training. However, despite the limited amount of time that he has before the start of fall practice in Mid-August, the veteran coach is holding voluntary workouts to attempt to assess his potential players’ skill level and understanding of the game.
He says his reasoning for this is to, “be able to create the appropriate training sessions so I can build for maximum growth.” Brinker has established both short and long-term goals for his new program.
In the short term, he feels it is important that, “players and coaches get to know each other. A team is so much more than playing soccer.
Every member of the team is important and one of the first things I believe we need to do is learn how to be there for one another.”
One thing he is stressing in off-season sessions is conditioning which he quipped, “is the girls favorite thing to do.” In the long term, Brinker hopes that he can lead a soccer resurgence at Central Mountain.
He remembers the days not long ago when the CM ladies were regularly competing for District Championships. Brinker is confident that those days can return. In order to make that happen, Brinker has the expectation of his players that they will, “compete to win in practice and in every game we play. Set realistic, academic and soccer goals and strive to achieve them.
Have a desire to learn, improve each day, and respect themselves and ultimately everyone they come in contact with.”
Finally, Brinker was asked how he plans to balance a large family with his teaching job, coaching and his political activities. His response was simple and direct as he said,
“With everything I do, my faith and family comes first and foremost. Therefore, I talked with my wife and children as each door of opportunity knocked. Thus, we are on this journey together. Consequently, I plan to take one day at a time with my family and trust my father, whom I serve, to lead me and guide me on this adventure of life I am on.”
Brinker is surely on a number of adventures but he possesses a proper approach that will likely enable he and the CM girls soccer program to see success in the years to come.