Girls soccer coach Dan Graber has been at Goshen High School for 16 years, teaching P.E. and coaching soccer. He comes from a family whose last name is synonymous with soccer in Goshen. The Grabers, a missionary family, learned to play the game in Brazil.
Over the years, Dan has developed a well-rounded soccer program that with the help of assistant coaches Kari Wildman, Yaneth Springer, and Marcela Castillo, runs like a well-oiled machine. From the team website which includes parent information in both English and Spanish, to the yearly team retreats, alumni soccer game, team meals, and individual goal-setting meetings, this coaching staff provides athletes with opportunities and a lot to consider.
Here are a few snippets about this outstanding program:
What are your expectations for this season? Our expectations are always high. Our goals each year are to finish in the top three in the NLC and to win a sectional title.
How have changing IHSAA rules impacted the game? The game is played at a faster and stronger pace today. Concussions and ACL injuries have been a real issue in the women’s game. Today we focus on proper training in the weight room to help players avoid injuries, and we keep a close eye on any contact involving a player’s head.
Do you monitor players’ yellow/red cards? We are a disciplined team. The girls have averaged only one yellow card per year over the past few seasons. As coaches, we are required to keep track of all players receiving cards, and a player must sit out one game after receiving 5 yellow cards or a straight red card.
What does your team do for fun? We start each season with an overnight retreat to give the girls a chance to bond and set goals for the season. The players also take turns every week hosting team dinners at their houses. In the past we have also made trips to the dunes and had a bowling dress-up party.
According to a team mom, “The retreat is like an old-fashioned sleep over! The coaches took the girls’ phones when they got to camp, so that they would focus on the team and not be tempted to use their phones. It really helped them to get to know each other better. They ate, played games, had individual meetings with the coaches, took a morning run, voted for team captains, went tubing, shared stories, and just generally had a good time.”
What does your coaching staff do to develop students? We meet with every player individually before and after the season, and ask players to set goals for the year that are not just related to soccer.
Is there anything that you think is unique about coaching at GHS? I think we are fortunate to have a great level of diversity on our teams. One year I think we had girls representing eight different countries on our team. I believe there is real value in learning from a variety of cultures and experiences.
How much do you emphasize academics to your team? Academics are extremely important; we set a team GPA goal at the beginning of every season. The past few seasons we have had an average team GPA of 3.5. We also try to connect with teachers, and were the first team to implement a “Staff Night” at one of our home games. It’s always great to see players make connections with teachers who have made a difference in their lives.
How much do you emphasize being a role model? We always remind our players that they represent GHS soccer in the community and that their actions reflect our team. We ask our players to volunteer their time with our elementary students and with soccer team camps in the summer.
How does the past success of your program impact your team? We have experienced some real success over the past few years so we know teams are going to be out to beat us. The success of our teams has led to us to change our regular season schedule. This fall we’re facing the toughest schedule we’ve ever had at GHS. The girls are working hard though, and they are ready for the challenge!
This team; playing soccer, having fun, learning life lessons, and racking up wins. What a great way to experience high school life!
Good of Goshen story submitted by Lori Martin