The offseason will be a busy season for Gary Hindley.
The Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School boys and girls soccer coach will spend several months this summer coaching a Pensacola club team in the National Premier Soccer League.
Pensacola City FC, which was formerly named the Gulf Coast Texans, competes in what Hindley called a fourth-tier league in the player development pyramid of the United States Soccer Federation.
“It is a professional development league and the players are amateurs,” Hindley said. “This would be the most logical step out of college and we have several college all-Americans coming in. We also have a player from France.
“This was interesting to me because they are young players and I still think of myself as a teacher-coach rather than a coach-teacher.”
Practice for the team, which was purchased by Pensacola businessman Bill Fetke during the past year, begins May 1. The playoffs run through the end of July.
The regular-season slate includes games against teams from Knoxville, TN, Chattanooga, TN, Atlanta and Mobile, AL.
One carrot for Hindley was not being forced to leave what he calls his second-home, Port St. Joe, his home away from home, second only to his hometown in the Northeast.
“When I talked to them I didn’t have to move to Pensacola full-time,” Hindley said.
Another attraction was the ability to bring with him his own assistant, in Hindley’s case long-time friend and colleague Don Maples, who is based out of Knoxville and assisted Hindley during his first year at Port St. Joe.
Maples is also an outstanding goalkeeper coach, Hindley said.
Hindley, with a lengthy and broad resume in the college and professional coaching ranks, said he became intrigued with the possibility of coaching in Pensacola while conducting a camp in the city with Maples.
“I saw this was a lot higher level of play than I thought it would be,” Hindley said. “They were young, hungry, passionate soccer players. They want to be taught everything. That appeals to me.”
There was also appeal at returning to the higher levels of coaching soccer.
In the National Premier Soccer League, players understand the technical side of the game, Hindley’s job is to “professionalize” them about the other aspects of playing professional soccer, from the schedule to nutrition, he said.
Hindley will return in the fall to coach the Port St. Joe programs, where he has enjoyed considerable success the past five years.
The job, Hindley noted, has come with pitfalls, in particular the turnover endemic in a high school program.
“This was the hardest coaching challenge I’ve ever had,” Hindley said. “You start over every year. And I’ve four opportunities for other jobs, but none of them were good enough to leave Port St. Joe.”
Hindley’s teams have combined to go 84-56-10 over the past five years. His boys teams have won two district championships and finished second in the district two other times.
The Lady Tiger Sharks have finished has district runners-up three times.
While in Pensacola, Port St. Joe soccer Coach Gary Hindley will be providing a daily five-minute update on the World Cup in Brazil, covering the day’s games, previous results and group standings. The show will be during the morning commute on ESPN Pensacola 1450 AM and 101.1 FM.