A coach for all seasons

Publish date:

Izzy Hernandez knows every year brings a new set of variables.

"Coaching boys and girls is different, and every year brings new expectations and new feelings," says the Broughton (Raleigh, N.C.) soccer coach. "You develop your own style as a coach and it depends on the players you have from year to year."

But some things with Hernandez never seem to change.

Known by his players as one of the team's funniest guys off the field, it seems safe to assume that Hernandez doesn't have nearly as many friends on the field.

For many opponents, the goal of "winning it all" means beating Broughton en route to the title. In his 18 years of guiding the Caps -- both boys (in the fall) and girls (in the spring) -- Hernandez has amassed a combined 669-159-50 record and a reputation as one of the most dominant coaches in the Southeast.

On Nov. 17, the Broughton boys' team earned the school's latest 4-A state championship, putting Hernandez's grand total of boys' and girls' titles at 11. He leads all girls' high school coaches in the state with nine championships.

But the gold trophies fail to reflect all that is Hernandez's hard work. The engravings don't tell about a coach who led an already successful boys program into back-to-back champs -- the first to do so in North Carolina since Bob Catapano's 1988-89 squad at Sanderson High in Raleigh.

The trophies don't tell about a coach who has the highest winning percentage among active girls coaches in the state, leading the Caps to 12 championship appearances in the past 13 years and nine state titles since 1992.

They don't tell about a coach who has molded soccer talents for the college and professional levels. Talents like Lindsay Stoecker, a former U.S. Women's National Team and Washington Freedom (WUSA) defender, and Casey Nogueira, the leading goal-scorer at UNC and assist-leader for the U-20 U.S. Women's National Team.

And they certainly don't tell about a coach who, at the early stages of his coaching career, balanced coaching a Capital Area Soccer League club team to its first national championship, coaching both the boys and girls teams at Broughton, and teaching P.E. full-time. His resume speaks for him -- a necessity, given his modesty. "I don't think that's a reflection of me," Hernandez says of his success. "Our area here is very competitive, and if you look at our scores, you'll see that many of the matches are very tight. It's never a cake walk."

As a lifelong soccer disciple, Hernandez picked up a number of coaching pointers while still a player. Larry McCorkle at Bishop Moore Catholic (Orlando, Fla.), provided Hernandez perhaps the greatest inspiration at the high school level as the coach guided his team to a state title -- one of his three at Bishop Moore.

As a captain and all-district player at Elon College (now Elon University) in North Carolina, Hernandez's experiences at all levels have added to his coaching style. But largely, his methods come from his players, who, with every generation, enter his program with more skill, endurance and motivation to compete at the top level.

"A lot of high school soccer seems like it's more based on athleticism and using your speed and size to give you an advantage," says ScottGoodwin. "Izzy tries to get us to focus on the technical aspects of soccer and playing as a group. He really gets us to think. A bit more loose. Hilarious but also competitive."

Hernandez knows not to let one year's title affect next year's run. That means no big heads, no arrogance, no banking on anything.

Some things will just never change.