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New Golden Eagles coach is a familiar face

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

CONVERSE — Joel Garverick has come full circle from playing soccer at Oak Hill High School to become the Golden Eagles’ new boys’ soccer coach — before his 25th birthday.

The 2013 Oak Hill graduate moves up after a year as an assistant to former coach Jared Reel, who moved on to Mississinewa.

Garverick has directed the players in open field training since early June, and the Eagles spend today through Saturday at the Indiana Wesleyan University team camp.

While young in age, Garverick already has a wide range of coaching experience having served under Reel, his high school coach Marcus Corn and former Marion High girls’ coach Kyle Patricek. Garverick started on his coaching path while still a student at Indiana Wesleyan.

“Ever since I was in high school I have known that I wanted to coach,” Garverick said Tuesday afternoon while sitting on a bench and watching his team scrimmage on the football field. “I have taken different ideas from different people I played and coached under and fitted it into how I see soccer should be played and come up with my own ideas to see how that works.

“I’ve definitely taken some ideas from Coach Reel,” he added. “He’s a huge influence on me and how I think soccer should be played. He’ll always be somebody that I look up to.”

Garverick and the Eagles players won’t have to wait long to see their mentor and former coach. Mississinewa will be one of the teams Oak Hill will scrimmage against Saturday, the final day of the camp.

“That will be cool to play against Coach Reel,” Garverick said. “They’ll have opportunities play other teams as well, so we’ll be able to see some stuff that we don’t normally see is always good. And playing against Mississinewa, some of the kids know each other pretty well and that will be fun for them I’m sure.”

Although Garverick had moved to Grant County from Dayton, Ohio, before his eighth-grade year, he’s always had a close attachment to the Oak Hill community. After obtaining his teaching degree from IWU in 2017, he stayed around and was a substitute teacher at Oak Hill and then was hired this spring for a full-time teaching opening at the high school and to replace Reel. 

“Oak Hill has got a huge place in my heart and it’s molded me. The coaches and teachers shaped me into the person that I am today,” Garverick said.

“I know what the community is like, I already have connections with some of the families having coached here previously. I know the players and they know what’s expected.

“But I’ve also coached at Indiana Wesleyan and coached at Marion and under some other coaches and it helped me see that maybe we get too focused on one thing or another and lose sight on other things that might be important as well,” he added.

Ryan Fagan, Oak Hill athletic director, said he was aware of Garverick’s desire to coach from high school and is pleased to have an alumnus leading the program. Boys’ soccer has been a sport at Oak Hill since the mid 1990s and Garverick is the first former player to return and coach the team.

“Joel was very passionate about soccer in high school,” Fagan said. “... He brings a lot of continuity to the program, and he’s going to be a teacher at the high school, something we haven’t had before. He has a good soccer background and the kids know him and all that is a plus for him.”

Senior Luke VanBibber is one of the Eagles’ key returnees and said the team should have a fairly seamless transition to their new coach.

“He was our JV coach before so there wasn’t that much of a difference with him filling as head coach,” VanBibber said of Garverick. “He knows all the players and we should adapt pretty well. He played for Oak Hill and he knows the system and what we’re best at.”

Garverick intends to make some changes, mainly to have the Eagles play at a higher tempo and be on the attack more often. While five starters graduated from a team that finished 7-7-3 a year ago, Garverick has some high expectations for the team this fall.

“We’re looking to reload and get back to doing the kind of things we’ve been doing the past few years that have made us successful,” Garverick said. “I want us to be a team that’s in control of the game ... We don’t want to sit back and defend the whole game like what happens sometimes.

“One of the things we have to do is focus on moving the ball quickly, and sometimes I think we just sit in one place and dribble too much,” he added. “I want to be a team that can pass the ball and pass it quickly and capitalize on the openings that are there.”

Oak Hill’s season debut is Aug. 14 against Tipton.