Coaching and Playing Bio:
During his 15 overall seasons as a collegiate head coach, Paul Holocher compiled a 181-84-32 record and led his programs to six total NCAA Tournament appearances while helping develop many professional players and a strong community following.
Over the last eight years as the Cal Poly men’s soccer head coach, Paul Holocher transformed the Mustangs into a program recognized nationally for both a winning tradition and innovative style of play. The 2013 season proved to be another banner year for the Mustangs under Holocher with Cal Poly posting double-digit victories for the fourth time in the past seven seasons. Offensively, the Mustangs finished seventh among Division I teams with a program-record 43 goals. The Mustangs, whose 3-0 win at No. 6 UCLA marked the highest ranked opponent Cal Poly had ever defeated, also finished ninth nationally in total points (124) and goals per game (2.05), 10th in points per game (5.90), 15th in assists (38) and 20th in assists per game (1.81). During seven seasons inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium, Holocher directed Cal Poly to a 42-15-10 home record and helped create one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases in the nation. Under Holocher’s leadership, Cal Poly has finished among the top-10 Division I attendance leaders during all seven years at Spanos Stadium. During the 2013 season alone, the Mustangs averaged 2,816 fans per home match, a testament to the style of play implemented and the commitment to youth soccer in the Central Coast.
As an attacking midfielder in college, Holocher helped Santa Clara to a 1989 NCAA Tournament championship and a 20-0-3 record under Steve Sampson and Mitch Murray. Holocher ended his career with selection to the NSCAA All-America team and was a recipient of the Vincent Corsiglia Academic award for high-achieving student-athletes at Santa Clara. His 28 collegiate goals and 32 assists remain the second-highest career marks in Santa Clara history. He was inducted into the Santa Clara Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005 alongside fellow Bronco soccer alumni Eric Yamamoto and Brandi Chastain. After his collegiate career, Paul went on to a seven year professional career becoming one of the first Americans to play in a European first division when he signed with FC Admira Wacker of the Austrian Budesliga at the age of 23. Paul returned to the United States from Europe for the formative years of the MLS playing for both San Jose and Chicago before retiring from professional soccer at age 28 to begin his formal coaching career.
After a successful playing and coaching experience, Coach Paul Holocher is moving to Maui to pursue a new project here at Maui United, as our Development and College Placement Director. We interviewed Coach Holocher to learn more about our new Director of Development.
How did you come to join us here at Maui United what are you most excited about?
“After meeting Brent Nunes several years ago it was clear we had an immediate connection in how we see the game, what we value, and what we envision. Like Brent, I also always have a passion for youth development. For me, working with the youth is a joy. I have the same joy in teaching a seven year old as I do a twelve year old, or a seventeen year year old. They are all on their path in growing and developing in the game and I enjoy helping them along that path. Maui United is a wonderful opportunity to teach and share my experience, develop and implement ideas on how best to develop players. Brent and I are also both thinkers ‘outside the box’ and we feel that we can grow something special for the players here in Maui and for Maui United. I am here to support him and bring vision and ideas for developing players on the islands. I have been visiting Brent for years here in Maui and each time I was more impressed by him and the club and the kindness of the people here. It is a unique and exciting challenge for me and one that I have quietly been drawn to for years. I will give them my all as I have done everywhere I have been.”
What do you feel are your strengths as a coach?
“I feel perhaps my real strength is that I have always known there is more to learn and that I can always improve. I have been educating myself for twenty years as a coach at many different levels and will always want to learn more. You learn through study, discussion, observation, but then you truly learn by doing and by being on the field. That is why I love the grassroots level. I have the opportunity to teach soccer every day, share a vision and clear ideas on how to help the players. I am confident in my abilities but I also know as a top coach one must be adaptable and continue to learn. Another strength is that I am a good worker. I enjoy working, coaching, building, teaching. It is a passion.”
You have visited Maui United several times over the years. What have you liked about the club and what are you looking forward to?
“Yes, I have visited several times and enjoyed it immensely each time. Maui United is club clearly moving in a special direction under the leadership of DOC Brent Nunes. He is a strong student of the game and he cares tremendously for the youth in the club. All the Maui United coaches and teams are striving to play excellent possession-soccer. I am excited to share my experience and insight towards this playing style. We will always focus on helping the players become skillful and 'masters of the ball', but personally I am also looking forward to teaching the players how to read the game tactically, position themselves intelligently and work together within a system of play. We are all excited to implement, teach and refine a clear playing identity throughout the Maui United club."
Who have been the greatest influences in your coaching?
“I have had many influences, but only a small handful have really touched me to the core in the way I was touched when I have travelled to FC Barcelona to look into their youth academy. It was truly a game-changer for me to see what was possible with their youth players and teams. Pep Guardiola is by the far the most influential coach I have been exposed to. I remember watching him train the Barca B team when he first started coaching and I could sense it was unique. Then to watch his teams over those special years he coached with FC Barcelona was a great inspiration to me. His teams played so collectively and with such clear ideas. I hope to one day meet him and thank him for his inspiration.”
“As I look back now, when I was a young coach of 28 year old at UC Santa Cruz I was enthralled with watching the AJAX teams of Louis Van Gaal,with all those young players. For me that was super soccer and the type of soccer I would have loved to play and learn growing up. I had travelled to Holland earlier in the summer with a youth team and had my first dose of the KNVB and how they teach and envision the game. I started coaching UC Santa Cruz in the 1-3-4-3 and the 1-4-3-3 in those early years and looking to study and learn as much as I could. I had never played these systems as a player, but it clearly resonated with me as a coach. It was entertaining, intelligent and winning soccer.”
“All these schools of soccer, FC Barcelona, AJAX, are inter-related and have been major influences in my coaching. I identify and believe in the way they approach and look to teach the game. It is the type of soccer that values possession and with the goal of collectively controlling the game with the ball. My education is ongoing and I am learning all the time. I have some good friends and fellow coaches on the mainland who I feel strongly about and we share ideas. To work with these like-minded people who you also have strong friendship with is a real blessing.”
What type of soccer will you coach here at Maui United?
“I enjoy teaching possession and positional soccer. I like to teach attacking soccer in a skillful and intelligent way. Our goal is to implement specialized training methods that can bring this philosophy and belief to life. It is about developing the individual player within the collective. I feel strongly that there are ways to develop each and every player to the next level. For me, youth development goes far beyond winning a soccer game. We are here to develop players and not only technical qualities, but tactical insight, and spirit. We want our young players to be students of the game and to understand and fall in love with how we play the game and create many great memories that can last a lifetime.”
What is the first order of business as Maui United’s Development Director?
“We will develop our vision for the club, for the players, and for the families. We want to be a club with a clear identity in how we play and we want to attract players that are motivated to play this way. This is a wonderful project that will take time, but we can begin today and that is very exciting to be a part of. Brent Nunes, our Director of Coaching here at Maui United, is a young coach that I believe in greatly and why I found this opportunity especially exciting. Fred Guzman is also a very special person to me. He was a mentor of mine when I was in college just starting in the game. To be able to work with these two and the other coaches will be a lot of fun and I am looking forward to helping the club move forward.”
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