English assistants helping Owls to undefeated start

With new assistants James Gledhill and Joe Barber, the Owls have started 4-0.

Senior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez (left) celebrates after senior defenseman Carlos Moros Gracia scored to tie the game in Friday’s 2-1 win over Pittsburgh. | PAUL KLEIN FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

James Gledhill boarded a plane from England to the United States at age 18 to pursue his dreams of playing soccer. Had he known when he left the Manchester Airport that he would be moving to the United States for good, Gledhill may not have made the decision to come.

Now as a new assistant coach, hired in February, Gledhill is happy with his choice.

“It’s fantastic,” Gledhill said. “I absolutely love it. The last couple games we’ve played, we’ve had 750 to 1,000 people, so there’s a lot of interest, a lot of excitement about Temple soccer this year. To be part of it on the coaching staff, I’m loving it.”

Also new to the coaching department is assistant coach Joe Barber, who joined the team in May. Barber played as a midfielder at Limestone College, then transferred to the Florida Institute of Technology and competed there. Gledhill played at Fairfield University and the University of Mobile.

Both natives of England, Barber and Gledhill began playing soccer around the age of five. Throughout their years of experience, they have developed expertise in different areas.

Gledhill focuses more on the forwards, the position he played in college. His goal is to give them options when they are in the heat of the game and must make quick decisions.

“On the field, it’s tough to score goals because to be an attacker, you’ve got to be creative, and not everybody can do it,” Gledhill said. “What I like to think that I do is give the players as many options as possible in realistic situations that could come in a game.”

Last season, the Owls scored 31 goals, and this year they aim to reach 40. Temple will look towards senior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez and junior midfielder and forward Joonas Jokinen, who have accounted for six of the 10 goals scored by Temple thus far.

Meanwhile, Barber works closely with the defenders and goalkeepers, helping them with saving shots, handling crosses, distributing throw-ins and goal kicks and footwork.

“They came with new ideas and new training sessions,” senior defender Matt Mahoney said. “It is great because it keeps the guys fresh and doing new drills so they don’t get bored.”

The new instructors aspire to bring more to the Temple program than their innovation when it comes to drills. Immersing themselves in the team and contributing to the atmosphere is also an important aspect to them.

“I would say that I bring the sunshine to the seven o’clock practices,” Gledhill said. “I’m the fun guy of the group. I’ve got the bleached, bright blonde hair, I talk a bit funny.”

Mahoney believes that despite being recent hires, the coaches have made an impact already.

“They’re awesome,” Mahoney said. “The whole dynamic is different. They’re two funny, English guys who know what they’re talking about when it comes to soccer.”

Barber is excited about the possibility of recruiting more athletes for the soccer program. He attends the Premier League Tour where he learns from coaches and tries to recruit players who might not make it professionally in England and, therefore, are looking to play for a college team.

Having graduated from Florida Tech in 2014, Barber also said he can connect to the athletes in a personal way.

“I knew as a player what worked, and understand the physical and mental demands of college,” Barber said. “I’m in touch with what modern student athletes want and don’t want. I’ve been there, done that.”

All three coaches, including head coach David MacWilliams, see this year as a special opportunity for the Owls to make program history. Their ultimate goal is to win the American Athletic Conference and move on to the NCAA tournament.

Maura Razanauskas can be reached at maura.razanauskas@temple.edu.

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