Boys Soccer Coach of the Year: Valparaiso’s Danny Jeftich
By Tom Wyatt Post-Tribune correspondent December 12, 2012 11:00PM
Valparaiso boys soccer coach Danny Jeftich is the Post-Tribune coach of the year. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 7:28AM
At age 56 and after 33 years of coaching, Danny Jeftich is nowhere near ready to call it quits. Heck, he’s not even ready to hang up the soccer spikes.
The Valparaiso boys soccer coach still plays in a league one night a week. And the reason is fairly simple: He loves the game.
“I still feel well, and I’m still active,” Jeftich said. “I still enjoy practices and training. It’s still fun. When the time comes that I’m not looking forward to it, I’ll call it. But right now, I still love it and I like seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces.”
The 2012 Post-Tribune Boys Soccer Coach of the Year, Jeftich completed his 22nd year as the Vikings coach this past season. He began his coaching career at Munster, where he coached for three years before moving on to coach for eight seasons at Valparaiso University. Then came the job with the Vikings, a program he has built into a model of consistency.
He led Valparaiso to an 18-3 record that included another sectional title, Jeftich’s 10th since the IHSAA first sanctioned soccer in 1994. The Vikings, who won the state title in 2004, also won their first regional title since 2005.
And Valparaiso did it while struggling with key injuries at certain times of the season and while playing without a true offensive standout.
“This team just persevered from the beginning,” Jeftich said. “In the preseason, as we looked at the talent in the region and the (Duneland Conference), I think one newspaper had us at No. 3 and the other at No. 4. That gave us some motivation to keep improving throughout the year.
“The group just came together. They believed in the system and showed great work ethic.”
The Vikings won with their defense, posting 11 shutouts and allowing just 14 goals in 21 games.
“When I looked at previous years, like when we won state, we had guys that dominated the region in scoring,” Jeftich said. “So I knew we didn’t have a star player or the one player to go to on offense. Our leading scorer had eight goals, one other had five and another had three. But we believed that if we could defend well, we’d find a way to win.”
In November, Jeftich was inducted into the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He recently learned of an even more prestigious honor, his induction into the Indiana Soccer Hall of Fame, which takes place Jan. 19 in Indianapolis.
“It’s a big honor,” Jeftich said. “I’m privileged to be with some of the top coaches in the state.”