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With new head coach, West De Pere girls soccer looks to continue winning ways

With a new head coach West De Pere girls soccer looks to continue their winning ways
Posted at 4:33 PM, Apr 15, 2024

DE PERE (NBC 26) — The West De Pere girls soccer team has had a lot of success in recent memory, as they’ve won 7 straight conference titles. This year they have a new head coach who has the resume to help the team continue their winning ways.

“I was at UWGB for 3 years,” said Chad Johonson. "From there I ended up over at St. Norbert College. I had stints with what is now called the Loons. Bay Port High School as the girls coach. My last stint: Green Bay Glory.”

Two years removed from the game, looking to get back in it, Johnson gave now former Phantoms head coach Matt Ganzen a call.

“I said are you looking for an assistant coach, I’m looking just to get back in and be the good cop, not the bad cop and support the players on the bench and he said, ‘Well just so you know I’m leaving, why don’t you put your name in an interview and I’ll support you’.”

Ganzen had been around for many years building a program that has sustained success.

“I personally was really sad,” said Phantoms junior Faith Walder. “I loved him as a coach.”

As sad as they were to see him go, a few games in and they’ve been thrilled to play for Johnson.

“I really think Chad is bringing a lot of new perspective on the game and a lot of new techniques and a good look on the game as well,” said junior Marissa Vandeihei.

“He's super intelligent,” Walder said. “Probably one of the smartest coaches I've ever met. He brings a lot. He knows so much about the game that I've never seen.”

The team says his motto: ‘The brain, the heart, the feet’, is something they’ve bought into.

“Every practice we emphasize three things we have to exercise,” said Johnson. “We have to exercise the brain, we have to exercise the heart. We have to exercise the feet. If we can do those three things successfully and with intensity it’s been a successful practice.”

For the new head coach, he says taking over a team that has many returning players from a team that was one win away from state and that has a tradition of winning made his transition seamless. Walder and VanDeiHei both led the team in goals scored last season.

“Things were so well done in the past that you kind of come in and let that river still flow, but yet, alter its course a little bit. Make some minor changes. Make players believe in themselves a little bit differently,” Johnson said.