Six years after self-publishing a book about the challenges high school soccer coaches may face over a season and their solutions, Ida Baker’s Greg Winkler is getting a wider release just as his own high school season begins.
Winkler connected with Meyer & Meyer Sport, a German sports book publisher, for “Coaching a Season of Significance: A Soccer Coaches’ Companion to All Challenges of a Year,” which will re-release in February just as the FHSAA playoffs are rounding into focus.
Whether Ida Baker secures a spot in the Class 4A postseason isn’t so guaranteed.
However, Winkler is hoping for improvement with a team that went 9-11-2 last season, and said he will lean on the guidelines he outlined in his book.
“Part of the book is about coaching core values and having to walk the talk,” said Winkler, who spent 18 years coaching soccer in Wisconsin before retiring as a teacher and relocating to Cape Coral, where he’s been at Ida Baker for the past two years. “I feel like when I put something down like sportsmanship, I’m putting a microscope on myself. But I’ve been a better coach, because I’ve looked for ways to make the experience better for my kids.”
His players believe what he's teaching.
"He focuses mostly on core values," said Ida Baker junior captain Stephen Barker. "He's trying to teach us determination and to have core values. Even if you don't have the ability to play soccer, you still have those core values."
Winkler, who sold roughly 500 copies of his self-published book out of his car during speaking engagements, has been coaching soccer for over 20 years. His began in 1994 when he joined the Fond du Lac Youth Soccer Association in Wisconsin. He led various teams to conference titles and academic awards before being named the National Soccer Coaches Association of American National Youth Coach of the Year in 2012.
Three years later, he was inducted into a local hall of fame chapter in Wisconsin and will be recognized in the 2017 Wisconsin Soccer Hall of Fame.
All of this is to say Winkler, who teaches a HOPE physical education class on the Punta Gorda campus of Florida SouthWestern State College, has led a busy life. He continues to coach the Bulldogs, whom he feels have really started to hit a groove.
"Without Winkler, our program wouldn't be where it is now," Barker said. "I'm not saying it was terrible before, but after Winkler came he changed us. Our attitudes changed, our mindsets changed, our style of play changed."
In his book, Winkler touches on all aspects of coaching, rarely looking into on-field schematics. He says other books can provide that. Instead, he dedicated pages to the nuances of coaching across different ages and skill levels.
“If you’re a coach, it’s coming from the point of, ‘I took a team from the first day,’” Winkler said. “Handling tryouts, how to cut kids, ways to cut kids that are more humanistic. It’s a transformational coaching book.
“I talk of the difference between boys and girls, dealing with parents, coaching kids and having core values. You’ll find ways on how to deal with referees, deal with school administration and the rest of faculty.”
Even today, though, Winkler is still learning. And that isn’t surprising, he said, because coaching takes different forms everywhere you go.
He wrote the book in part because of that. He says there aren’t very many ways to continually educate yourself as a coach. Someday, he’d like to see his book in a library, or taught during a coaching class.
“The only experience some coaches have is whatever coach they had before them, whoever they played for,” Winkler said. “A lot of things young coaches don’t know, a lot of older coaches don’t know, because they didn’t take courses that taught them.
“Between my years, my staff and I put things in place that have been successful with team management and it’s carried over to success of our teams. I wanted to write something to show that.”
And now all that’s left, Winkler says, is to go out on the field and put all his words into motion.
Contenders: Gulf Coast, Fort Myers, Palmetto Ridge East Lee County
Sleepers: Ida Baker, Estero
Athletes to watch: Daniel Velasco (Jr., East Lee County), Carlos Dalien (Sr., Gulf Coast), Matthew Downey (So., Ida Baker), Noah Cicoria (Sr., Ida Baker), Kevin Berrios (So., East Lee County), Alam Gutierrez (So., Gulf Coast).
Outlook: Last year’s district champion, Gulf Coast, is without Sebastian Joffre, who led the Sharks all the way to the Class 4A finals and scored 33 goals as a sophomore. But the Sharks are still considered one of the favorites in the district, alongside Fort Myers, Palmetto Ridge, Estero and East Lee County. The Jaguars have two game-changing players in Daniel Velasco and Kevin Berrios and return an experienced corps of athletes that won 18 games a season ago.
Contenders: Mariner, Cape Coral, Port Charlotte
Sleepers: North Fort Myers, Dunbar, Cypress Lake
Athletes to watch: Andre Blanco (Sr., Cape Coral), Bryan Martin (Sr., Island Coast), Joey Lane (Sr., Mariner), Sinjyn Hodges (Sr., North Fort Myers), Kevin Retana (Sr., Cape Coral), Joseph Nizama (Sr., Mariner), Steven Langdale (Sr., Mariner), Jayden Hodges (Sr., North Fort Myers), Jesse Gonzalez (Jr., Dunbar), Wildro Pierre (So., Island Coast), Carlos Pizarro (Jr., Island Coast), Makens Cypres (Jr., Cypress Lake).
Outlook: The district to be tougher than it’s ever been, so it may not be surprising if incumbents Mariner and Cape Coral aren’t playing for a title at the end of the season – Cape Coral took those honors last year. Island Coast possesses some talent up front, while Dunbar has built a solid foundation with Carl coach Falk. Of course, doubters shouldn’t take Mariner or Cape Coral lightly. Tritons coach Martin Cardenas has led the Tritons for the last 24 years, while Cape Coach Ardo Nardiello, whose team lost 14 seniors, is back in his eighth year with the Seahawks.
Contenders: LaBelle, Bishop Verot, Gateway Charter
Athletes to watch: Billy Griffin (So., Bishop Verot), Max Carbajal (Jr., Gateway Charter), Fabricio Rios (Fr., Gateway Charter), Omar Alvarado (So., LaBelle).
Outlook: The Cowboys, who won 16 games and went undefeated through the district last year, are once again favored to lead the division. Coach Jef Frost has won 56 games with LaBelle over the last three years. Verot, however, is close on its heels and possesses talent after winning five games last season. Gateway Charter won seven games a season ago.
Contenders: Community School of Naples, Seacrest Country Day,
Sleepers: Canterbury, Southwest Florida Christian Academy
Athletes to watch: Justin McDaniel (Sr., ECS), Luke Wallace (Sr., SFCA), Sam Moreland (Sr., SFCA), Conner Buck (Jr., SFCA), Liam McKinney (Jr., SFCA).
Outlook: While the top of the district favors Community School of Naples, which won 21 games a season ago, it’s anyone’s guess who will slide into second place. There are many suitors, including the next three from last season: Seacrest Country Day, Canterbury and Southwest Florida Christian. For the Kings, who are returning from a promising 9-6 season, hope hinges around a veteran squad. Upstart Evangelical Christian School, which won two games a year ago, is simply hoping to improve and build a foundation.
Title: Coaching a Season of Significance: A Soccer Coaches' Companion to all Challenges of a Year
Date: February, 2017
The skinny: Ida Baker boys soccer coach Greg Winkler draws on over 20 years of coaching experience to write about the challenges and solutions coaches may face over a season.