GOSHEN — There’ll be some noticeable changes on the sidelines of Bethany Christian soccer games this fall.
Hank Willems, who’s spent the past three seasons coaching the boys soccer team, is taking over the girls soccer program. Tony Janzen, who’s been a boys assistant the past four years, will now be the boys head coach.
The moves were made after former girls soccer coach Joel Gonzalez resigned on June 24 to move with his wife, Brook, to Virginia. Given the resignation came only a few weeks before summer workouts began, hiring a new coach from the outside would be a tough task.
This led to Bethany Christian Athletic Director Gary Chupp and Head of School Tim Lehman approaching Willems about making the switch. Willems, who’s also the school’s Principal, was in favor of the move.
“When it was all said and done, it was the best way to leave both programs in the best position to succeed,” Willems said. “From my principal perspective, that’s what I want: I want all our programs to be successful, and we thought this way was the best way to accomplish that.”
Also factoring into Willems’ move was Janzen. The two had talked in the past few years about Janzen succeeding Willems as head boys coach one day. When Gonzalez resigned, that process was expedited.
“It has been a quick turnaround, that’s for sure,” Janzen said. “We had known that Joel Gonzalez was thinking about this move; just weren’t sure when it was going to happen.”
Now, both men get to lead programs that won sectional championships in 2019.
Willems has coached numerous sports throughout the Bethany school district, including two stints as the boys soccer coach. In his combined nine seasons leading the Bruins, he went 110-56-12, capturing six sectional titles, a regional crown and a final four appearance in 2011. In the last three years specifically, Willems has guided Bethany to three-straight sectional championships.
Willems has never coached girls sports at Bethany, though he’s had experience coaching girls soccer through local youth programs. He was also the inaugural girls soccer coach at Logansport High School in the 1990s. This move to the Bruins girls soccer program, though, gives him a new opportunity within the Bethany school system itself.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the girls athletes here,” Willems said. “I’m grateful the school continues to give me the opportunity.”
Given his experience with coaching girls soccer, Willems doesn’t envision the transition being hard. He’ll also get a chance to coach his daughter, Zoe, who’ll be a freshman this upcoming season. Being a familiar face within the school district will help continue the success the program built up under Gonzalez.
“Overall, I don’t feel like I’m going to have to make many changes between the two,” Willems said. “We have a group of girls who really want to succeed and play hard.”
Janzen, 34, now gets to step into his first head coaching job of his career. He played soccer for Elkhart Central and Goshen College, graduating from GC in 2008. He then spent one season as an assistant with Goshen High School before returning to Goshen College as an assistant for three seasons.
After working for a non-profit company in Cambodia from 2013-16 with his wife, Denise, the two moved back to the area. Within two weeks of being back, Janzen was offered the JV coaching position at Bethany.
Having been within the Bruins program the last four years has helped Janzen through this process.
“A lot of the structures are in place for how we run things, how practices are set up, how we interact with players,” Janzen said. “A lot of the same coaching staff is coming back to help me this year, so the only major new thing is me being in a different role.”
Janzen gives credit to Willems for laying the groundwork for him to step in and lead a Bruins program that made it to the regional championship game a season ago.
“I’ve learned so much from Hank over the last three years,” Janzen said. “I feel very ready to take over and to have success right away. Without that base or learning from Hank, I would be in a lot different situation; maybe have more anxiety going into my first head coaching job.”