Bill Breedlove

Coach Bill BAs a senior and a soccer player at Upper St. Clair High School (USCHS), my future was somewhat unclear.  I played one of the midfield positions and we had just lost the WPIAL championship game to North Allegheny.  West Virginia University was aggressively encouraging me to play soccer for their squad.  Herb Lauffer visited USCHS to meet with two of my teammates.  I also met with Herb but rest assured I was not one of his targeted recruits.  I will never forget our conversation.  He was very complimentary although, I really don’t think he knew much about me.  He made me feel at ease about the decision I had to make.  He was aware that WVU was courting me.  Herb was upfront and candid about Penn State’s academic requirements, the Behrend soccer program in general, and about his specific thoughts regarding my skills and how I might fit in the program.  He mentioned that the Behrend team consists primarily of underclassmen as most students leave for University Park after two years at Behrend.  He went on to relate how this represented an opportunity for me but how it also could be a concern.  The opportunity was that I may get more playing time as a freshman.  The concern was if we could compete playing against teams’ predominately comprised of upper classmen.  Herb was endeavoring to change this trend and wanted to know if I chose Behrend would I consider staying 4 years.  Herb encouraged me to consider attending Behrend and play soccer for him and in the same breath he unabashedly told me that I probably would not play midfield and that he thought I was more suited to play stopper or sweeper.  In my mind I was a midfielder so the thought of playing a purely defensive position did not appeal to me.

 

I was struck by Coach Lauffer’s candid conversation.  It was incredibly comfortable even though he was telling me things that I didn’t necessarily want to hear and that were of concern to me.  In the end I chose Behrend, Penn State & Herb Lauffer because of this conversation.  My experiences as a player for Herb were consistent with that conversation.  He always made me feel comfortable; he was always candid regarding my preparation, my play on the field, my academics, and my social life at Behrend.  I didn’t realize it at the time but he was building a lifelong relationship with me.  One built on trust and openness and candor.  A relationship I grew to appreciate and cherish.

 

Coach Lauffer’s open and candid approach left a lasting impression on me. I try to emulate it in all I do.  It has served me well.

 

Bill Breedlove

Behrend Soccer 1977 – 1981

 

Jill Yamma

yamma 1I first met Herb when I attended the Grove City Soccer Camp when I was in High School. I later had the privilege to be hired by Herb as a camp counselor. Working alongside him and Penn State Behrend soccer coach Dan Perritano solidified my decision to come play soccer at Behrend and continue the relationship I built with these two gentlemen over the years.

I was extremely saddened when Herb passed away but I am blessed to have met such a wonderful man and mentor. I am grateful his memory lives on and continues to impact many.

Bill Dodd

I had no way of knowing that when I shook Herb Lauffer’s hand in the summer of 1976 that I had forged an altered path for my life.

The fact that I played Wide Receiver on my high school football team and had almost never kicked a soccer ball, somehow qualified me to barge into Herb’s office to ask if I could try-out for the team.  Herb’s invitation was instantaneous, and for the next two years, I played backup to Behrend HOF GK, Bill Stara.

There were many aspects to Herb’s approach that I would later recall, but one characteristic was obvious.  He treated his players as equal adults.  Don’t misinterpret, Herb was in charge and knew what he wanted, but he appeared to have a deep respect for his players.  This respect gave his athletes the confidence and freedom to improve.  As a result, when Herb got angry, we felt like we had let him down.  It was a motivational style that was completely alien to me at the time.

When I left Behrend for the UP campus at the end of my sophomore year, I left soccer (a sport that I had grown to love) behind me and my absence probably had something to do with the subsequent success of the 1978 team.

Fifteen years later everything changed.  I volunteered to help as an assistant coach on my son Jake’s youth soccer team.   Two things were immediately obvious; I still didn’t know anything about soccer and I liked coaching.

For the next twenty years, I coached virtually year round occasionally picking up some knowledge here and there about the game.  For my last twelve years I served as head soccer coach at Kennedy Catholic High School in Hermitage, PA.  I had adopted Herb’s respect-oriented coaching style not because of the way in which it grew the win column (although it did); but because of the way in which it grew the student athletes.

Tom Trimble, Jake Dodd, Bill Dodd

Tom Trimble, Jake Dodd, Bill Dodd

The story doesn’t stop there.  My son Jake now runs his own goal keeping academy based in Erie, called Ignite GK.  After attending a camp of his as a guest one day, I realized that he was using traits that I had picked up from Herb.

I suppose that I can imagine Herb still walking the sidelines of a soccer pitch somewhere, but to see him in my son… who never met the man…  I believe the term is legacy.