GOSHEN — The man who can be credited with restarting the girls soccer program at Bethany Christian High School has decided it’s time for a new adventure.
Joel Gonzalez, who coached the Bruins for the past four seasons, announced his resignation Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s not as much about leaving Bethany as it is leaving Goshen,” the Evanston, Illinois native said.
Gonzalez took over the Bethany program for the 2016 season, following back-to-back seasons in which the Bruins didn’t field a team due to low numbers.
“For the size of the school, Bethany had a good girls soccer program but numbers are always going to be a problem,” he said. “I feel good about the program and the way I am leaving it. We built the program up into a healthy and competitive one. There are a lot of girls playing in the middle school program.”
The Bruins posted a school record in wins last year with a 16-3 record after losing 4-3 in a penalty kick shootout to the Argos Dragons in a Class A regional semifinal at Lakeville.
The Bruins advanced to the regional with a 2-0 sectional championship win over Lakeland Christian at Westview. It was Bethany’s sixth overall sectional title, first since 2009.
“In my four years at Bethany we saw the culture change and a passion develop for the sport,” Gonzalez said. “The program is trending upwards.”
“I would like to thank Joel for everything he has done to elevate our girls soccer program,” Bethany Athletic Director Gary Chupp said in a school press release. “Four years ago, Joel took over a program that had been discontinued due to low numbers. He was able to create an environment of passion and excellence, culminating in a school record of 16-3 this past season and the first sectional title since 2009.”
Prior to arriving at Bethany, Gonzalez was at Goshen College. He was an assistant coach for Dale Stoltzfus. He also spent a season as the interim GC women’s coach.
“I was still teaching at Goshen High School and two full-time jobs were too much,” Gonzalez said.
He spent four years as an assistant at GHS for then-head coach Dan Graber. Gonzalez began his coaching career in 2008 with the U16 Middlebury Magic girls team and the U15 Elkhart County United boys squad.
“I have made a lot of good friends in my coaching days,” Gonzalez said. “There were a lot of good boys soccer coaches in the area when I started and I would like to think we have taken a step forward in that direction on the girls side.
“I value the friends I have made and the people I have gotten to know in the area.”
Gonzalez graduated from Evanston Township High School. He went on to play one year of soccer at Oakton College where he was named to the All-Skyway Conference second team. He then transferred to Goshen College.
After graduating from Goshen College, he found a job as a Spanish teacher at GHS.
Joel and his wife, Brook, met while students at Goshen College. The couple has been married since 2018.
“We are moving to Harrisonburg, Virginia. I have a job teaching Spanish at the high school,” he said. “I may try to coach soccer again. Soccer is a spring sport in Virginia, so there will be time to get settled before thinking about that.
“My wife is originally from Harrisonburg. It is a beautiful part of the country. We were definitely looking for an area where we would have more outdoor activities.”
“I would like to wish Joel the best of luck as he continues his professional journey in Virginia,” Chupp added.