Matt Gerlach, head coach
Matt Gerlach took over the reins of Hesston College men’s soccer heading into the 2016 season. With his first ever recruiting class, Gerlach brought in 18 freshman, likely the largest ever incoming class of soccer players to join the Larks. In Gerlach’s first two years, the Larks have had some of their most successful seasons is recent history. Continual improvement has seen the Larks finish the 2017 with the most wins in 11 years.
Gerlach has extensive experience both as a player and coach from youth leagues through collegiate programs. As a player, he was a four-year starter at NAIA competitor Huntington (Ind.) University, as well as team captain during his senior year. After his time as a player, he joined the coaching staff at Huntington. After three years on the staff, Gerlach moved his family to Florida for a full-time church-outreach job. He continued working as a coach as his passion led him to coach at a local high school. There he was able to take the Rutherford High School women’s program from a winless squad to the district finals.
Gerlach earned a bachelor of science in recreation and sports ministry from Huntington University, and finished his master of science in recreation and sports sciences from Ohio University (Athens). He also has a diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (Kansas City, Kan.).
Jeff Giroux, assistant coach
Jeff Giroux joined the Larks coaching staff in the summer of 2017. He was just coming off two years of studying in England at Leeds Beckett University where he received his master of science in psychology of sport and exercise. While in England Giroux had the opportunity to coach the Olympic race-walkers as they prepared for the 2016 Rio games as well as train with the Bradford City reserves. Giroux also brings professional experience as a director of coaching and player development for the Alexandria Area Soccer Association in Alexandria, Minn., as well as an Olympic Development Program coach for Minnesota.
Prior to his time in England and as a coach in the United States, Giroux graduated from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and was named the NAIA soccer player of the week twice.
“Jeff is an integral part of our coaching staff,” said Coach Gerlach. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and unequivocally makes us a better team, but his real strength lies with his relationships with the players”
Johnson Kawanguzi, assistant coach
Johnson Kawanguzi joined the coaching staff in the fall of 2017. Having recently moved from Uganda with his new bride, Kawanguzi wanted to reconnect with his love for the game of soccer in the United States. His wife, Leah, a Hesston College graduate, connected Johnson with the coaching staff, and the rest, they say, is history.
Kawanguzi spent much of his childhood playing soccer and continued to play and enhance his educational experiences. In Uganda he played at Jinja Senior Secondary School, St. James Secondary School and Makerere Business School. After collegiate education was finished, he opened his own computer shop.
“Johnson brings a passion and love of the game,” said Coach Gerlach. “He allows the entire coaching staff to daily connect with more players and he does it with a genuine passion and knowledge of them and the game of soccer”