The Bob Jones University Athletic Department named BJU graduate Matthew Hotchkin as the new head coach of the Bruins men’s soccer team in early February.
The previous coach of seven years, Jesse McCormick, stepped down after the 2018 fall season.
In January, Athletic Director Neal Ring contacted Hotchkin about the newly opened position. Ring made a trip to visit Hotchkin in Indiana, followed by Hotchkin and his family coming to Greenville for an interview.
After talking to many different people, Hotchkin decided Greenville is where his family needed to be.
Hotchkin began playing soccer when he was 4 and played throughout grade school. He attended Bob Jones Academy during his junior high and high school years, playing on the middle school and high school teams as well as local club teams.
Hotchkin then went on to attend Bob Jones University, continuing his career by playing soccer for his society, Alpha Omega Delta, because the University did not have an intercollegiate team at the time.
Hotchkin married Jennifer Pyle in 1998 and graduated with a bachelor’s in Bible in 1999.
In 2002, Hotchkin then began his coaching career at Northland International University in Wisconsin. He coached the women’s soccer team for one year before switching to the men’s team.
Hotchkin coached in Wisconsin for six years before moving to coach at Grace College in Indiana in 2008. He coached there until the position at BJU opened. Now, he is in the process of moving back to Greenville to coach at his alma mater.
“I always wished that we would have had [a collegiate team] here,” Hotchkin said. “So, when I found out that BJU was getting one, I got pretty excited.”
Hotchkin is currently traveling back and forth between his family in Indiana and his new soccer family in Greenville.
His wife is a teacher in Indiana, and they decided it would be better to postpone the move until after the school year finishes. The Hotchkins have three children, Will (14), Matthew (13) and Lily (9) who are also finishing the semester in Indiana.
When he is in Greenville, Hotchkin tries to spend as much time with the team as possible. He can be found eating with members of the team, meeting with them in his office or coaching them in practice.
According to Hotchkin, McCormick left the team well organized, and Hotchkin does not plan to change anything immediately.
He feels as if he needs to spend more time with the men to figure out what is needed. “I don’t want to take away the things that are good,” Hotchkin said.
However, Hotchkin does plan to put an emphasis on the team’s culture.
He wants the team to have an atmosphere where the men have fun and enjoy being together as well as love being on the team. He has already seen good relationships within the team and wants to strengthen those relationships.
Hotchkin also wants his team to be a team that knows how to win. “I want to build a team that the school can be proud of and that people want to come watch,” Hotchkin said.
Hotchkin wants his players to be “two-footed,” meaning able to use either foot while playing, as well as able to play any position they are asked to play.
He also wants his men to know how to set up defensively in a way that allows them to create plays offensively. Working under pressure and advancing the ball up the field are desired skills as well, Hotchkin said.
Coming to the team, Hotchkin does not have a specific style of play he wants the team to adopt. Instead, he plans to watch the team and see how they need to play in order to be successful.
“I think we’re going to need to adjust right now based on the players we have and what their strengths are,” Hotchkin said. “The style of play we can adjust after we learn how to win games.”
Off the pitch, however, Hotchkin strives be a player-centered coach who is trying to connect his players to what God is doing in their lives.
He understands that college is a crossroads where students figure out who they are and who they want to be. He said he wants to be there for his players: to listen to them, encourage them, challenge them and be a friend to them.
On the field, Hotchkin’s philosophy for his men is for them to learn from their strengths and weaknesses and to learn how to compete together. He does not want them to be afraid of making mistakes; he wants them to have fun.
Hotchkin’s vision for the team is to be one of the most recognized and notable soccer programs in South Carolina, not just for the way they play, but also because of their attitude and cheerful service toward others.
He hopes to keep the men involved in the community. Clinics and camps will still be held, but Hotchkin also said he wants his team to be ready and willing to serve the BJU community in other ways.
“I mean, if you could get a group of 20, 25 strong guys, you can do almost anything,” Hotchkin said.
Overall, Hotchkin is excited about his new position. “I think the guys are in a good place right now,” Hotchkin said. “We have a lot of things to work on, but I’m excited about the potential and what we can do within the team.”