The Notre Dame men’s soccer program won their first Nation Championship last season behind strong goalkeeping, coached by brother Vern Gingerich, Trine University ’97. For the past six seasons, Gingerich has helped lead the Fighting Irish through hard work and persistence – values he learned through SigEp.
After four years of high school coaching and one year at the college level, Gingerich was eager to find his next challenge. When an opening presented itself at Notre Dame, he jumped at the opportunity. He approached legendary head coach Bobby Clark, a long time collegiate coach and former Scottish National team goalkeeper. After their discussion, Coach Clark offered Gingerich a temporary position working with high school athletes. Though it wasn’t a full-time position, Gingerich saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate his worth, and after two weeks he returned to Coach Clark.
“I told him that a few of the other coaches at the camp were asking me to work with their staffs,” Gingerich recalled, “and I will never forget how he responded. He said, ‘Vern, we want you.’”
Since that moment, Gingerich has worked diligently to make Notre Dame’s goalkeeping core one of the best in the nation.
“I got my organization skills from joining Sigma Phi Epsilon,” Gingerich said. “I see that as the building blocks of where I am today.”
The specialization of the position allows Gingerich to work closely with his players, just as he and his brothers worked in SigEp. He has found success in focusing his players on the dream of a shutout, which they have attained more than 45 times in his six seasons.
“Our leadership worked to get a diverse group of men on the same page, and I see it as the same concept in soccer,” Gingerich said.
The players follow his leadership and work to help one another, regardless of playing time, which truly speaks to the camaraderie he has been able to foster through the emotional wave of a season. This year’s core consisted of a diverse group all vying for the position in the field. Gingerich pushed his players to use their diversity to build one another, rather than holding each other back.
“We are here to help each other,” he said of his goalkeepers. “Players of other positions could move in the field. A forward could shift to a defender, but goalkeepers don’t have that option.”
Looking to next season, the Irish will no doubt fight to be back on top. With Gingerich leading the goalkeepers, Notre Dame will look to achieve another first: back-to-back championship titles.
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