Looking to challenge himself and get back to playing soccer competitively, Owensboro Catholic Girls Soccer Head Coach Andy Hines has returned to the pitch as a player for the Midwest Hooligans.
The Midwest Hooligans are a semi-pro soccer team out of Evansville, Indiana, that competes in the United Premier Soccer League—the largest and most competitive pro-development league in North America. The league has nearly 400 clubs competing nationwide and the Hooligans play in the Premier Division of the UPSL.
The league occupies the fourth tier of the U.S. Soccer pyramid, which is just below the three professional tiers in the pyramid. Hines has played in soccer leagues in Evansville before moving to Owensboro, but there aren’t very many leagues for adults to play in around Owensboro.
Having played semi-pro soccer Evansville Crush, an Indoor Arena Soccer team and Division II soccer in college, Hines wanted to get back to competing at a high level and so he went to try out for the Hooligans.
He was one of 60 players that tried out for the team over the course of two days and he didn’t think that he would make it, but was pleased to find out that he was invited to play on the roster. Hines isn’t settling there though, as he hopes to compete with the gameday squad at least once before the season comes to a close.
“I miss the competitiveness, the camaraderie and both the mental and physical side of it,” Hines said. “I am the oldest on the team by 12 years. So I am not as athletic as I once was, but I still have that determination I had 15 to 20 years ago. I want to make the game day roster for a game but most of all maybe get a few minutes in a game. I have played some of our reserve games and scrimmages prior to the season, but I would like to make the game day squad just to say I did it at 42 years of age. I am here for fitness, practice and to be a leader.”
Hines isn’t the only one with local ties that has been with Hooligans either, as Owensboro Catholic Boys Soccer Head Coach Andy Donohoe coached the team last year, while Brescia alum Jacob Sauls, Domenico Colletta, Max Enders, and Joao Benassi-Silva, former Owensboro players Warren Green and Jermey Acosta, Apollo’s Joseph Tapia, Uli Gonzalez who went to Henderson County but resides in Owensboro and former KWC goalkeeper and Coach Grant Allen are on the team this year alongside Hines.
When asked what younger him would’ve thought if he knew that he would play and coach this far into his soccer career, Hines said that younger him would tell him he’s ‘getting slow old man’, but that he would be proud of his commitment to coaching and playing at his age while challenging himself physically. Not to mention, Hines knows that he’s also learned plenty that can help him be an even better coach for the Lady Aces.
“Any time you’re around the game, you learn something,” Hines said. “Our coach Adam Sells has done a good job, and the practice has been great, and I believe I will take something away from this for my girls team next year.”
Andy said that he has had a blast with the team so far, as it’s exciting to not only be back on the pitch but also to be around a group of great guys that have similar goals in mind. While he’s not sure that he will be back for more time on the pitch in the future, he has loved every second of it and would support the team in whatever capacity he could.
“The owner Auston Bruder makes everyone feel included through social media and on the field,” Hines said. “It has been a pleasure to be around younger guys pushing me physically. Practices have not been easy at all, but all the guys are good guys who all want to win and challenge each other to be better. For me it’s been an honor to be a part of the team. I have not played on a team for a long time and I am enjoying hanging out and being a part of this group of guys. I am not sure I will do it again next season, but I will support or help them anyway I can down the road.”