Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Michigan State's Jeff Hosler returns to East Lansing with championship pedigree

September 14, 2021
Michigan State Head Coach Jeff Hosler addresses his team, photo courtesy of MSU Athletics and Maria Babcock.
Michigan State Head Coach Jeff Hosler addresses his team, photo courtesy of MSU Athletics and Maria Babcock. —
Photo by Courtesy of MSU Athletic Communications | The State News

New year, new coach.

Michigan State Head Coach Jeff Hosler has begun his first season with Michigan State's women's soccer team after an illustrious run at Grand Valley State University, or GVSU.

Prior to his time at Michigan State, Hosler held the position of head coach at GVSU for seven seasons and won three national titles for the Lakers, including the highest winning percentage for any team in collegiate soccer in that same stretch.

For Michigan State, this hire was more than just hiring an accomplished head coach. It was hiring the hometown kid too.

"An incredible opportunity," Hosler said. "I'm an East Lansing High School graduate, so this is literally coming home for me. To have an opportunity to coach at an institution as special as Michigan State is, in an athletic program that has a national brand and to be able to coach in what I think is the best conference in America, there was too many great opportunities to look pass that."

While Hosler was new to a majority of the team, MSU fifth-year forward Ava Cook transferred this season from GVSU alongside Hosler.

"I have been with him for four years, so it was not a follow as much as it was a next step for me," Cook said. "I obviously have a fifth year because of COVID and am looking to play for as long as I can after. This was a huge move for me. The Big Ten provides a lot of opportunities and this level of play could really help advance my game further. The fact that he ended up here kind of worked out."

For the rest of the team, this has been an adjustment.

"(The adjustment has been) challenging, but in a really awesome way," graduate student and midfielder Danielle Stephan said. "The bar has been raised and honestly, I feel like a freshman all over again coming into something unexpected, but it has definitely been fun to have to work hard."

Stephan has been a part of the team since 2017. For her, this is a huge change from playing for former Head Coach Tom Saxton to Hosler. The biggest thing? Their mentality.

"A lot of attitude changes have been made and a clear slate for everybody," Stephan said. "Everybody is coming energized and ready to get after it. It feels more consistent that way and more across the board, everyone showing up everyday to practice ready to go...and practices have been way better that way."

This is a transition on the coach's side as well. Hosler said he needed to adjust to an entirely new team and athletic department.

"It's been good," Hosler said. "I think the girls took the same approach as our new coaching staff to be open minded and everyone got a fresh start...To be undefeated through the first five with the way their season went last spring, there is a lot of positives."

Despite the trophies and accomplishments, Hosler said he wants his team to also take soccer with them throughout life, making it his goal to instill a "one day at a time" approach.

"I want my team to take away that every day matters," Hosler said. "I think it translates to all walks of life. If you wake up focused to give your best effort and make that day the best one that you have had, you will find a lot more fulfillment in life. You will enjoy each day a little bit richer, have relationships a little bit deeper and have a little more success without worrying about all the other things that can happen."

Hosler's squad will take on the Indiana Hoosiers on Sept. 19 at Indiana. They will return home after a long road trip to play the Wisconsin Badgers on Sept. 23.

"We still have what is hoped to be a long season ahead of us," Hosler said. "I think it is important that the culture piece is right and understanding work ethic, commitment, building relationships and being authentic with each other, pushing each other. If we can do those things, it will set us up for an opportunity to win some games and establish the longer-term goals."

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