Athletics & Recreation

Coach scores 17-year mark in soccer

When Jeff Hooker began coaching women’s soccer at the University of Denver most of his current players were kicking around in baby cribs.

That was 17 years ago — a long time, especially considering Hooker never wanted to be a coach.

“I told myself that’s the one thing I wouldn’t do,” Hooker says. “I had a very accomplished playing career and didn’t want to just hang around the game and collect a paycheck.”

But a former coach pushed him to try it. Today Hooker says he’s glad he did because it’s been a wonderful ride.

The milestone makes him the longest serving current DU coach and ties him with Jim Bain, who coached women’s swimming and diving for 17 years. That’s the longest anyone has coached a DU women’s sport.

So why has Hooker lasted so long?

“I love the intimacy of the athletics department and the school itself,” he says. “We’re all trying to accomplish the same thing and help each other through the process.”

Hooker’s process has turned DU women’s soccer into a winning machine and put it among the national elite. Last fall he even knocked off top-ranked Stanford — the first time the Pioneers ever beat a national number one squad. And every season he’s coached, the team has won at least eight games, including a string of 11 consecutive seasons of nine or more wins from 1994–2004.

Kris Peat, the team’s assistant coach, has known Hooker for 24 years. He says Hooker’s leadership, knowledge, passion and desire to see players improve as athletes and as people “make him a complete package.”

Hooker says he doesn’t think of retirement but that when he does, he’ll learn to fish, continue “to play bad golf,” enjoy time with his new bride “and hopefully some rug rats.”

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