Hawthorne Soccer: Two ‘Coach of the Year’ Awards


Natalie Tousignant and Leah Matari

Boys soccer coach, Jim Clementi, and girls coach, Gus Schell, were both awarded Coach of the Year honors in the NJIC Colonial Division. In the 2013 season, both the boys and girls varsity soccer teams reintroduced successful records to Hawthorne High School. The boys team finished the season with a record of 13-1-1, and the girls team ended 11-2-4. With this being Clementi’s second year as a varsity coach and Schell’s 29th, both men have accomplished victorious seasons with different approaches

Clementi, who played soccer at Ramapo College, insists he was able to receive the award because of his team’s successful record. “Naturally, the coach is going to get some credit for that,” he said.

Senior Ryan Zawojski agreed and  gave his coach credit for their successful season. He said,”He always gave positive feedback. Whether we won or lost, he was always encouraging.”

Clementi said that the 13 wins can be credited to the team’s themed practices. He explained that the practices had a theme each day, such as possession, and would begin with small drills on possession and progress into larger drills. Throughout the practice, players were forced to keep the theme of the practice in mind, which helped them perfect a specific skill.

Despite the loss of a few key players from last season, Clementi commented on the team’s scoring ability, saying, “We got a really good transfer, Brandon Cruz [who earned All County honors]. He had 25 goals; he was able to fill that gap.” In addition to Cruz, Clementi mentioned senior Nick Miller, saying Miller stepped up on the field this season.

Miller commented on Clementi’s coaching style, “Clementi is a great coach; he had a great connection with the players.”

As for next season, Clementi hopes to be able to “go a little deeper in the state and county tournaments,” and, of course, to defend the League Champion title they won this season with the best record in the league.

Girls soccer coach Gus Schell has high hopes for next season as well. Next year, Schell explained, the tone of the season will be set by the leadership of the upperclassmen.

As for this season’s success, Schell simply states, “I had very good players who were all willing to make personal sacrifices and try new things for the good of the team.”

Madison Noordeloos, girls varsity player, commented on how Schell gave her the chance to try something new. “As a freshman, he gave me the opportunity to be the goalie. He was very encouraging and always helped his players with any problems throughout the season.”

Schell defines success as “peace of mind in knowing you did the best you can.” This season, that peace of mind translated into wins.

The basis of Schell’s practice routine revolved around decision-making. He explained that by game time, he wanted his players to be able to make their own decisions with the ball. Schell admits, “I was very quiet; I just watched the play.”

Essentially, Schell sums up his coaching principles in two basic rules: The first, “Improve as a person.” The second, “Care.” These two rules, he says, encompass everything and have not changed over time, even when coaching methods have.

Schell noted that players and coaches spend an enormous amount of time together over the course of four years playing a sport that allows the coaches to have a tremendous influence on players. As Clementi stated, in accordance with Schell’s belief, an important part of a team is good chemistry. Schell stated, “Anybody can be on a team; not everybody can be part of a team.”

Although both winning coaches have different approaches to the game, both agree that through their work on the field players and coaches form great relationships with each other that go far beyond the skill of the game.