Willems hands reins to Yoder

Bethany’s boys soccer team will have a familiar face as coach next year, but it won’t be Hank Willems (’89), who has resigned after six years as varsity coach. Replacing Willems will be Mark Yoder, who has served as an assistant to Willems for the past five years.

Willems is stepping down from coaching to focus increased energy in his job as assistant principal at Bethany and to spend more time with his family: wife Cori, son Beck (age 8), and daughter Zoe (age 6). He says, “I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the boys soccer program at Bethany over the past six years. The players have worked extremely hard, and it has been very rewarding to see them succeed. However, at this stage of my life I simply cannot invest the time necessary to keep the program at this level or to grow the program to new heights.”

And Willems is used to lofty heights, having been a part of successful programs at Logansport and Fort Wayne Canterbury prior to coming to Bethany. And since taking the Bruins helm in 2006, Willems’ teams have won five consecutive Northern Indiana Soccer Conference championships (2007-11), three sectional titles (2006, 2010, 2011), and this year’s team won the program’s first regional title before falling one game short of playing for the 1A state championship. Twice Willems has been selected Indiana Soccer Coaches Association (ISCA) district coach of the year (2006, 2011), and his winning percentage of .713 (77-31-10) is just higher than long-time Bethany coach Dan Bodiker’s .707 (326-135-39).

Joining Willems in leaving the sidelines is JV coach Marcelo Warkentin, who also is stepping down after 11 years of coaching to spend more time with his young family. Willems says, “Marcelo has been an exceptional asset to the program—his understanding of the game and kids made him an invaluable part of our team.”

Despite the loss of both the varsity and JV coaches, Willems believes the transition should be seamless as current assistant Josh Leinbach ('04) will take over as the JV coach and current assistant Ron Whiteford ('81) plans to continue coaching with Yoder. Willems says, “I am very happy to have Mark, Josh, and Ron continue in the program. Mark and I have worked together for five years and he is in a position to not only continue the success the team has experienced, but to take it to levels of new success. He has a wonderful relationship with the players and is very knowledgeable about the game. In preparation for this change he took on a bigger role this year and is ready to be an exceptional head coach.”

Yoder, who played scholastically at Central Christian (Ohio) and collegiately at Hesston (Kan.) and Bluffton (Ohio) colleges, is excited about transitioning into his new role. He says, “I look forward to continuing to build and develop Bethany’s soccer program. I have enjoyed the Bethany community and look forward to continuing to be a part of it.” Yoder also teaches at Waterford Elementary School and lives in Goshen with his wife Jenny Yoder (Mierau).