JWU Charlotte women’s soccer coach Matt Hisler recruits for upstart program at Virginian Elite Showcase
Participants at the 2015 Virginian Elite Showcase aren’t old enough to remember the early years of the event, but one of the first college coaches to arrive Saturday does: Johnson & Wales Charlotte women’s soccer coach Matt Hisler.
From 1988 to 1994, Hisler played in the event, now in its 40th year, for Springfield Youth Club and Vista. He battled against some of the top teams in the country and the world—from Asia and Africa to Europe. Because of his experiences, the first-year coach knew he had to stop by as he begins to build the JWU Charlotte program from scratch.
“Playing against teams of a high caliber is what I remember most,” Hisler said. “I understand how competitive this area is. If we can find players from here, we’ll put ourselves in a good position.”
Just three months ago, Hisler was named the head coach after JWU Charlotte announced the new men’s and women’s soccer programs in November. When his eight-year tenure as the University of Mount Olive women’s soccer coach ended in 2014, he began searching for other opportunities. Then this position became available.
“It’s such a rare chance to create an environment at the college level and be able to imprint your own ideas in terms of what the environment should be, what the structure should be and what type of players the program will be based around,” Hisler said. “A chance to shape the program in a positive, proactive way from the get-go is a very unique, different challenge.”
Hisler wanted to remain in the state of North Carolina, in part because of the local school options for his 5-year-old daughter. He also wanted to tackle a new challenge after twice being a head coach at established college programs.
One difficulty Hisler has already encountered is establishing the JWU Charlotte brand so prospects know his team exists. Just three months ago, the team had no players. But as of May 23, they have 17. Hisler hopes to get around 22 to 24 players, though he’s more focused on quality than quantity.
“In the first year, we really want to get the right people,” he said. “That’s the number one thing: We need the right people who will help shape the environment and take positive steps.”
There are logistical obstacles too, including building a stadium, developing the practice facilities and adjusting the fall sports calendar. After discussing these challenges, Hisler admired the facility he was in—Evergreen SportsPlex, one of the venues for the 2015 Virginian Elite Showcase.
“The facilities here are absolutely gorgeous,” he said. “I wish they had this when I was playing. It’s beautiful, it’s very simple to see what you need to see as a scout and the hospitality is fantastic. You can’t ask for a better location and better conditions.”
After only watching a couple of rounds of matches, he mentioned how he may have already found a potential prospect. With the recruiting season for 2015 prospects nearly complete, he’s beginning to focus on the next two classes: 2016 and 2017.
“There’s a good range of talent here,” Hisler said. “There are a lot of coaches at different levels who can find what they’re looking for here.”