49-year-old head Lou City Soccer coach John Christopher Hackworth just joined the team in the middle of last season, being picked from an international search for a suitable new leader. So far, he’s clearly done great things and become a fan favorite. He took a bit of time out from his busy schedule to share a few thoughts about his career, the team, and the new stadium.
You’ve had a long career working in soccer, stretching back to a time playing in collegiate soccer in the 90s, then putting in time as a coach in the time since. What is it that’s drawn you to this profession?
That is a very long story. The short version is that my former college coach, Walt Chyzowych, saw something in me and pushed me into coaching. I was still playing and working towards applying to med school to become a physician’s assistant, but I loved coaching and never turned back.
What do you love most about this career that you have chosen?
Everything! I earn a living in a competitive environment in the sport that I love. I am living the dream. I believe in leading by example and my kids have certainly seen it first-hand, that I have had to stay positive and keep grinding away in order to be successful. However, I should make a point of saying that my boys often tell me that I don’t really work, but that I just play all day long. They say I don’t have a “real” job. They aren’t wrong.
It’s clear that family is very important to you. You’ve been married to the love of your life for 22 years and have three boys; Morgan who is 22, Keaton who is 21 and 18-year-old Larsen. How do you find time for everything?
It is sometimes impossible to balance, especially traveling. I am fortunate to have a supportive family -especially my wife, Tricia- who understands the demands of my profession, and so far, they haven’t stopped loving me back.
How would you describe your coaching style?
Tough question. I try to teach and connect with my players and staff. I want them to be the best versions of themselves, as athletes and people. I would like to think that I set a very high standard, that I believe in them and provide a pathway for them to be successful. When that happens collectively, it is pretty special.
What are your proudest accomplishments as a coach?
Winning championships is the most logical answer, but it’s not the truth. My proudest accomplishments are seeing players develop and reach their full potential. There is never a trophy for that, but it is what I will always feel proudest about.
Tell us about the 2019 Team.
We return 18 players form our 2018 USL Championship team, so the quality and continuity from last year’s team is our foundation. Our culture is strong and these men are a joy to work with. However, we lost some key players from last year and have added seven new ones. We play great soccer. It’s fun to watch. The problem is that we haven’t always figured out how to translate our entertaining style into results so that is something that we need to figure out if we are to reach our full potential.
What are the future goals you set for your team?
Our main objective is to continue the level of excellence that this club has always strived for since day one. We want to win additional USL Championship Cups, Eastern Conference titles, the USL Supporters' Shield and the U.S. Open Cup. Our fan base expects us to win and that is what we plan to do. In addition, we want to build a youth program that gives the best young players, in and around Louisville, a pathway to be professional soccer players. And lastly, we want to continue to establish our club, both locally and nationally, as a model professional sports franchise.
Tell us about this new stadium!
It is going to be a game changer for all of us (our club, our fans and even the community who doesn't pay much attention to us). It was the main reason that I was attracted to this position in the first place. My belief is that it will be one of the most exciting atmospheres in professional sports in the U.S. It will be a soccer cathedral!
What do you like to do to relieve stress?
I would go insane if I wasn't able to get on a mountain bike and escape to the woods on occasion. If I can't bike, I go for a run to reset my mindset. The Big Four Bridge is my daily therapist!
Is there anything you think our readers should know or you would like to share?
Just that I plan on being in Louisville for the remainder of my career. This group is the best that I have ever worked with. The front office is amazing. This is a special place!