JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – It is not every day you find a highly qualified teacher who just happens to include a national girls soccer championship and three state titles as a footnote to his resume. Then again, in youth sports, anything can, and sometimes does, happen.
This year, Chattahoochee girls soccer will welcome a new coach when Denny Jenkins takes the helm. Jenkins is well known around town, having made a name for himself as a high-level youth coach at both Concorde-Fire and Atlanta Fire United.
He also served as the first director of coaching at Ambush Soccer Club. He has a veritable alphabet soup of national coaching certifications to add to the numerous teaching certifications he holds.
Jenkins was able to observe the team in action the last two years in his role as an assistant coach at rival Johns Creek High School. He accepted the position following the close of the season and in May was able to sit down and talk with returning Chattahoochee players.
“I was impressed by the talent on the field,” said Jenkins. “When I got the chance to meet with the players, I saw more. I know that they are dedicated and want to achieve. I see talent, plus commitment.”
That looks like a good combination to him. As a club coach he knows the high school season is a tough situation. A challenging practice and game schedule is worked around studies and combined with the intensity of a new set of players each year.
That can leave players worn and not necessarily at the top of their game as the season ends. Jenkins would like to change that.
“At this point, high school girls have been through the team cycles, and they understand what it takes to win. I don’t need to teach that.
“My job is to bring structure, and technique, and to hopefully use the time to build a better understanding of the game.”
In his view, commitment is key in order for players to achieve that understanding.
Sounding much like the teacher he is, Jenkins says his players may be surprised by the soccer homework he will assign.
“It’s always interesting to see a very talented player gain a real understanding of what is going on across the entire field – to be able to see what the competition is doing and make those immediate field adjustments. And win,” he said.
Hooch Soccer Booster Club President Brian McCarthy has a son playing at Chattahoochee, but is quick to point out that his two daughters also played under fine coaches at the school.
He is thrilled to see the tradition continue.
“Coach Jenkins comes to Hooch with a great deal of soccer knowledge, experience and success. His focus on detail and discipline impressed me the most, but his accomplishments speak for themselves,” McCarthy said.
“He has set his goals high for our girls and is committed to gaining the respect of his team.”
In the end, Jenkins is excited to bring his 18 years of coaching experience to his home school. He and his wife, Nancy, are raising 3-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, in Johns Creek and less than two miles from Chattahoochee.
“It is just time – time to give back to my community, and to the sport which has given me so much,” Jenkins said.