The ball had barely settled into the back of Orange Lutheran’s net when boys’ soccer coach T.J. Detviler spun away from the field and flung his cap to the ground.
His players turned and looked in his direction, but by then Detviler was already clapping his hands overhead, relaying encouragement to the Lancers, who might need a pat on the back more than any current Trinity League sports team.
That’s because Orange Lutheran has been stuck in a frustrating cycle of ineffectiveness the last few years, losing far more games than it has won. Two years ago, the Lancers claimed one victory during the entire season.
Detviler, hired two weeks before the start of this season as the program’s fourth head coach in the last three years, is confident he can get Orange Lutheran headed in the right direction.
After all, he’s already been there and done that, leading the Lancers to the Trinity League title during the 2006-07 season and twice being named the league’s defensive player of the year.
“We’re getting better every game,” he says. “So the future looks bright.”
Indeed, the Lancers won three of their first five games this season, and the seniors, who have experienced all the losses and coaching changes, are beginning to enjoy the view.
“I like where we are now,” says midfielder William Suryajaya.
Detviler, who earned a scholarship to play soccer at Cal State Fullerton and graduated from the school in 2011, has worked at Orange Lutheran as a campus safety supervisor for the last five years, but didn’t begin coaching until last winter, when he guided the junior varsity team.
Orange Lutheran had hired Brian Reed in July after last season’s coach, Erik Kirsch, left the Lancers after one year to become an assistant coach of the men’s soccer team at Concordia University in Irvine. Reed, who had collegiate coaching experience at Cal Poly and Loyola Marymount before accepting the job at Orange Lutheran, spent 3 1/2 months with the Lancers but was unable to begin the season because of a family situation, Detviler says.
The administration didn’t need to look far for an emergency replacement.
Before Detviler could accept the job, however, he needed to sit down with his fiance, Taylor Fox, a teacher at Orange Lutheran whom he met on campus. Detviler and Fox plan to marry Dec. 20, a date that falls right in the middle of the season.
Of course, the wedding plans would remain, the couple agreed. Detviler would just need to hand the reins to his assistants for a couple of weeks.
“We felt that [accepting the job] was something that I really needed to do and she agreed that it was something we needed to do together,” he says. “She’s been very involved and very helpful.”
Detviler doesn’t have the coaching resume of Kirsch or Reed, but does have a reputation of being one of Orange Lutheran’s all-time best players, one that still filters down to his current players.
Detviler is still learning to separate his experience as a player from his expectations as a coach, teach the right way and accept the results. His players seem to be buying into his thinking.
“It’s definitely been tough, but where we are now, I’d rather be nowhere else,” says senior defender Matthew Pitts. “Right here, just building up this program, is what I want to do.”