Trinity Lutheran girls soccer coach has built program from the ground up

When Jeff Nolting was coaching his son and daughter in youth soccer in Batesville, he knew one day, he wanted to coach at a higher level.

It didn’t take long for him to fulfill that goal.

Nolting coached girls soccer at Oldenburg Academy for four years and is in his fourth season coaching girls soccer at Trinity Lutheran High School. He also helped start the wrestling program at Oldenburg and coached that sport for two years.

Nolting graduated from Seymour High School in 1980, where he played football and baseball and wrestled.

He played baseball at Valparaiso University and graduated from there in 1984.

In Oldenburg, he said he got involved coaching soccer as a parent.

“I coached my son for a short period of time in the rec program, and I coached my daughter since she was 8,” Nolting said. “She was my goalkeeper at Oldenburg. It got to a point where a coach there had retired and they were looking for a coach, and I said, ‘I’ll work the girls out this summer.’ The athletic director knew at that point, he had found his coach, and I started coaching high school.”

Nolting returned to Seymour in 2013, when he joined Jackson County Bank. He is now vice president chief banking officer at JCB.

When he came back to Seymour, Nolting helped get Trinity’s program started.

“I approached (Trinity) to see if they had any interest in starting a girls soccer program, and they said, ‘We’ll think about it,’” Nolting said. “They thought about it for about a year and approached me and said they’d like to start a program. The rest is history, I guess.

“We didn’t have soccer when I was in high school. I started coaching out of necessity and kept on growing the kids and developed that relationship with those girls. You try to improve and keep coaching them all the way up through high school, and it’s fun to see, and it has been a good experience for me.”

Before creating the girls team, the school fielded a coed program.

Nolting feels that soccer is a player’s game even though coaching is essential.

“It is not a coach’s game by any stretch,” Nolting said. “The players step on the field. It’s their game. I do all my coaching in practice and stuff like that. When they step out there, it’s all about them and what they do, and I try to prepare them for that test.”

He also has some experience with travel soccer.

“I coached some club teams in Batesville and Columbus, and at the club level, the state really encourages coaches to get certain certifications and take certain classes,” Nolting said. “You can start out as a technical certification, and it goes to F and D certifications, and you can go all the way up to A. A would be a college-level coach.

“A lot of it teaches how to teach soccer the right way, the proper way, how to teach a lot of the drills. There’s a lot of stuff online that you might want to incorporate into a game.”

In Nolting’s practices, it’s very technical in the beginning, he said.

“I try to work on something that is consistent and add a little defense to it or add a little gamesmanship to it of some kind, and then at the end, we always try to scrimmage so that they can apply that in a game situation,” he said. “We build it up.”

Nolting said he believes interest in the United States has increased and will continue to get bigger.

“At one time in Batesville, a little community of 6,000, we had 650 kids playing soccer,” he said. “I think it’s only going to improve in the U.S. as kids that graduated high school playing soccer have kids and they get involved in soccer. There are a lot of us in my generation, we didn’t have it, and we kind of had to learn it on the fly as coaches. I think that will make a difference in our game.”

He said the mental part of the game is big.

“If you get down a couple goals, you can’t get them all back at once,” Nolting said. “You’ve got to get one goal at a time, and you’ve got to work to your strengths and try to create opportunities to get those goals, and once you get it back, you can continue to work and hopefully work to a tie. You never want to give up. You never want to quit. That’s as much as anything with them.”

Nolting said the start of the match and first five minutes of the second half are key parts in a match.

“The first five minutes of the beginning of the game or of the second half, you should come out strong,” he said. “You’re fresh, rested, ready to go. The first five minutes at the beginning of the game can dictate the intensity of the game. If you come out aggressive and kind of put a team on their heels kind of quick, a lot of opportunities will open up.”

He said having two classes in soccer is good for the small schools like Trinity.

“We’re all fighting about the same numbers,” Nolting said. “The schools we’ve played that are about size are all around 15 players, and it’s hard to get the numbers out.”

He said some smaller schools have strong soccer traditions, and they can compete with the bigger schools.

Nolting said by Trinity playing several larger schools, “It helps the girls understand what it takes to be at a higher level. They will pick up things playing Jennings County, Southport, Providence, things they do well as a team. We talk about that all the time, and we try to work toward that, getting better as a team aspect.”

He said he has enjoyed working with the Trinity girls.

“They’re a bunch of great kids. They’re fun to be around,” Nolting said. “They come from great families. They’re all good students. They all work hard. When we started, 16 kids came out. A lot of them hadn’t played soccer, and it has been fun to see them improve the last four years.

“They appreciate the game. I think the girls that come out have a great time, and it has been rewarding. I’ve been a fan of athletics. I played about any sport I could growing up here in Seymour, and I’ve had a lot of opportunities presented to me at Seymour and at Valpo, and it’s kind of a way of giving back to some degree.”