By Kyle LoJacono
Freedom athletic director Eli Thomas didn’t have to look far to replace the only boys soccer coach in the school’s 10-year history.
Thomas announced Aug. 13 that Charlie Haueter will lead the Patriots program. He replaces Dennis Derflinger, who resigned in early July to enter Hillsborough County’s assistant principals program. Derflinger will remain the school’s flag football coach.
Haueter, an English teacher at Freedom, joined Derflinger’s staff for the 2010-11 season.
“I learned a great deal from Dennis as his assistant, the greatest attribute I think being patience,” Haueter said. “He showed me over the course of two seasons that you must be patient as the players develop and grow from practice to practice, game to game, season to season.
Haueter grew up in Tampa and played soccer at King High and Rollins College.
“I have been playing soccer my entire life, even participating in tournaments overseas and going as far back as playing with Black Watch (Soccer Club) in 1983,” Haueter said. “I knew that coaching was one of the draws to starting my career as a teacher, and it was always my goal to take over a successful program, which I have definitely found here at Freedom.”
Derflinger’s teams went 111-64-19 in nine years with seven winning seasons, seven playoff appearances and four district titles. The Patriots also reached the Class 5A state championship game in 2009, falling 2-1 to Palm Harbor University.
“I am hoping to continue the success our soccer program has always had at Freedom and have a strong belief that we can get back to the state finals,” Haueter said.
The Patriots lose nine seniors from last year’s squad that went 12-6-1 and made the postseason as a district runner-up before falling to Lakeland George Jenkins in the regional quarterfinals. Freedom was later given credit for winning the playoff game because Jenkins used an ineligible player.
Haueter said it won’t be easy to replace those seniors, especially because players on his squad play for seven different clubs, which is a large number for a high school team.
Haueter said it’s a big challenge getting the student-athletes to come together to represent Freedom, but predicts the example set by last year’s graduating class and his own relationship with the players will make the transition easier.
“We are hoping that the positive examples set by those seniors and our late season run to the regional (tournament) will inspire our young core of players to pull together as the unit I know they can become,” Haueter said. He added, “What I hope to build with this new younger group of players is an attractive brand of soccer that focuses on the cohesive unit of the team: everyone attacking together, everyone defending together.”