Reinventing a Big Ten team

Jeff Hosler moves to MSU as women’s soccer head coach.
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Jeff Hosler’s career began when he was very young, with his first NCAA coaching gig at Alma College for its Division III soccer team when he was 26 years old. Photo by Alfield Reeves

After seven successful years as the head coach of the women’s soccer team at Grand Valley State University, Jeff Hosler received an invitation from Michigan State University to recreate the women’s soccer program for the Big Ten school. The bittersweet retirement from his position at GVSU commemorates not only the highest winning percentage of any Laker coach, with an overall record of 144-12-6, but also one of the strongest cultures an athletic program can have.

Hosler’s career began when he was very young, with his first NCAA coaching gig at Alma College for its Division III soccer team when he was 26 years old. “I’ve had a very grassroots or baseline development process. My first coaching job was middle school basketball,” Hosler said. Moving from youth teams to club sports and eventually to college athletics, Hosler now finds himself in a dream position, succeeding MSU’s 30-year head coach Tom Saxon.

The huge opportunity that comes with inheriting an entirely different type of culture at MSU allows Hosler to reshape it just as he did with Alma College at the beginning of his career. Currently ranked second to last in the Big Ten Conference, MSU is looking for a way to start fresh.

“I think it’s a place that kids have wanted to come to but just haven’t seen the success to take that step and commit,” Hosler said. “Our early recruiting efforts have been fantastic, and I think it’s a place that in years to come, the Big Ten Championship will have to come to East Lansing.”

Looking back on his time as a Laker, Hosler’s career highs were not only defined by three NCAA Championships but by the incredible players he was able to coach and all the lifelong relationships he was able to foster.

Stepping into his new office on Jenison Field, Hosler truly believes in the Spartan tradition and how he can reinvent his team’s culture.

“Commitment, work ethic, discipline, details — those are all things I talk a lot about in the recruiting process because if we match up when it comes to those expectations, then the culture of a program that that player is a part of and has ownership in is going to match up as well,” Hosler said.

Using everything that each team has taught him over the years, the 2021-22 roster marks the beginning of a new era for MSU and Hosler.

This story can be found in the September/October 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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