Welcome back to the Pyramid ladies and gentlemen! Got another exciting interview to share with you all this week, but I've got a few things to bring up first. If you are enjoying the content I'm putting out, I'd encourage you to click here to Follow me on Twitter, or here to Like the page on Facebook. And if you'd like even more content coming your way on the regular, click here and sign up for the weekly newsletter, containing fun articles and videos, sometimes covering soccer, sometimes not.
Now, this interview below was actually conducted over a couple of weeks due to the NSCAA convention. It's got great detail about who the Milwaukee Bavarians are, what they do, and just how big their trophy cabinet is. Check it out.
Let's start with the basics. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with the Bavarian's.
Patrick Hodgins and along with Tom Zaiss we coach and run the Bavarian PLA and adult soccer program.
How did you wind up getting into soccer, and helping with Bavarians SC?
Played at Lakeland college in Sheboygan. Work full time for Wisconsin Youth Soccer as a program admin running leagues and state cup and various other events. ODP staff coach. Started at bavarians fall of 2012 with the adult programs.
You've got some pretty solid coaching chops. What got you into the coaching side of the game?
Tom Zaiss played at UConn. Been involved with adult program since 1996. Won 4 national championships amateur 01,02,03 and 03 open, WI Soccer Hall of Fame inductee 06. Assistant coach for national championship in 09 open.
Knee injuries in college. I transition from a player to a "volunteer assistant" while I finished up school. My College coach Marc Colwell kept me around and taught me the recruiting side of soccer, sessions and building a program. Just build a love for the game and I am fortunate to learn from great coaches like Bob Gansler, Tom Zaiss, Bob Spielman, Craig Peltonen, Alex Toth, Jim Launder and Craig Carlson.
You got to learn from Bob Gansler? That's awesome. He's in Sporting KC's Legends group, my local team. Can you describe Bavarians set up to me? Based on the website, it's far more than just a men's weekend team.
Bob was the instructor for my D license and always around the Milwaukee area. Played, coach back in the day with Bavarians. I believe won a national championship in 76.
Now our setup. We have a full youth club u8-u18 and offer the adult teams as the extension. We have a first team and majors that play in our state run leagues and now the PLA team which replaced our former NPSL team. Club has a rich history of adult soccer so just trying to keep it going and meet the past accomplishments.
That's really cool. If you don't mind my asking what prompted Bavarians to join the PLA instead of returning to the NPSL?
We received an invitation to join the Great Lakes League now PLA for 2015 but declined due to uncertainty with the league. As the season progressed we began hearing good things about the level and league so we approached the league about joining for 2016.
Bavarians are one of the founding members of NPSL but the cost and travel with running teams was getting high and PLA offers a great alternative with the same level of play. Playing teams like Croatian Eagles and Madison 56ers in state really reduces the travel budget and keeps the level of play high.
Alright, so would you say the big advantage of joining the PLA is being a similar level of competition to the NPSL, but with a far more regional focus?
In my opinion yes. The league is split east/west to help reduce travel. The PLA clubs have a rich history with various clubs winning national championships.
It has been really neat finding out about teams like Corinthians FC, who never would have gotten a chance to play at a higher level without something like the PLA. How would you like to see the PLA, and by extension, Bavarians, grow its footprint in Wisconsin?
The responsibility falls on us as participants in the PLA to grow a following, brand our team/league an put a great product on the field. If we take care of those things the PLA will grow in credibility throughout Wisconsin, regionally and nationally.
Bavarians along with Croatians and 56ers are very established clubs on the adult side in Wisconsin so we bring a lot of credibility to the PLA.
That's a good answer. It's not up to the league to bring credibility to the club, it's up to the club itself. Now Bavarians has it's own field for soccer games. What can you tell me about it?
We have a turf field that was built in the fall of 2013 I believe. Heartland Value Funds Stadium. Home/away locker rooms along with bleachers, covered benches etc.
How many people can you fit in there?
Not sure. Let me get you an estimate. We have a large park with seating and eating areas behind the stadium with a concession area as well for standing room.
Okay, we can come back to that later. How would you describe Milwaukee to someone who's never been there? What makes it unique, best place to eat, grab a beer, those kind of things.
Smaller, friendlier version of Chicago. Ethnic diversity is what still stands out, have a lot of festivals including summerfest during the spring/summer months.
3rd Ward and Eastside are always good places. Little hipster areas with variety of bars/places to eat. Would be remiss if I didn't mention Nomad World Pub (One of our sponsors).
I've heard several people talk about the diversity of Milwaukee, which is really neat to hear about. How many trophies has Bavarians won in its history? I seem to remember seeing a picture of a trophy room earlier this week and I think someone attributed it to Bavarians SC.
17 Wisconsin Major Championships since 1973. 34 championships since 1929, 7 in a row from 1960-1966.
6 National Championships, 12 Region 2 Championships and 4 Region 2 Runner Ups. Not sure on the state amateur and open state championships but a lot.
Sounds like a good problem to have, too many trophies to count. Who are you most excited to play against this upcoming season?
We play Croatian Eagles a lot in league play but it's always fun playing them. Renewing the 56ers rivalry sticks out and playing the new Minneapolis City team is exciting.
Weren't the Madison 56er's with you in the NPSL?
That is correct. They left in 2015, Bavarians departed NPSL in 2013 I believe. We have played in exhibitions the last few years but a true league game is exciting.
Where do you hope to see Bavarians SC in 5 years time?
A leading contributor to the growth and development of the PLA in the Midwest and nationally. Add a supporters group and additional sponsors to continue growing the men's program.
You were recently at the NSCAA convention. How was it? Learn anything helpful for Bavarians?
NSCAA convention was great. A lot of coaches and people in town networking. Took in some good sessions and educational opportunities.
That's great, education is important for coaches. Let's go for some shorter, rapid fire questions. Who wins the PLA this year?
East-RWB Adria, West-Bavarian/Croatian Eagles. 56ers as the NPSL regular season 2015 winner will be a team to watch.
Who's your favorite league and/or team to watch?
EPL-Manchester United Sir Alex Years. Bayern Munich recently
Favorite player. One past, one present
Roy Keane, Yaya Toure
Oh, Roy Keane, that's a first. Favorite book, soccer related or otherwise.
Love Malcolm Gladwell but The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
Okay, you're the probably the fourth guy to mention The Miracle of Castel di Sangro. I think I know what book I'm buying next. Last question for you. In general, why should people support a team like Bavarians, and lower level soccer as a whole?
I know for us we put out a good product, our team is made up of former pros, college players, etc and it doesn't matter if you play PLA, NPSL, ASL its all amateur. Guys aren't playing for the money but are passionate about the sport and want to continue playing at a high level. People would be surprised at the level of play these teams put out and should get behind "amateur" teams. The soccer community forgets soccer existed before professional leagues and it's really good to see the movement and support for amateur soccer.
That's a great point, the professional side really seems to act as if all the amateur history doesn't exist. Patrick, thanks again for taking the time to do all of this, I really appreciate it, and I know my readers do as well. Thanks for reading everybody. Until next time, Stay Loyal, Support Local.