The Independence boys soccer team will have a new leader next year as assistant coach Eric Bossman was promoted to head coach last week, taking over former coach Josh Philips, who is transitioning to assistant principal at Brentwood Middle School.
Philips was the only boys soccer coach the school has known, leading the Eagles for the last 15 years.
“One of the biggest things Dr. Patton and I talked about was the continuity with me being there for the last four years, getting to know the school and the players that are returning,” Bossman said. “It’ll make it a little easier of a transition. Coach Philips has been there for so long and he was a staple of the school, in the long run it’ll help the boys as move forward into next season.”
Bossman faces the tough task of replacing nine seniors from this year’s team that made it to the district semifinals before falling to Ravenwood.
“We have a young group,” Bossman stated. “Most of our varsity this year were sophomores and seniors. It’s a transition with the sophomores having to step into more of a leadership role and now having somebody there help train them, it’ll make it a little easier for them next year.
“The biggest thing we had this year was we knew we’d have to integrate the younger players. We even brought up one or two freshmen during the course of the year with the mindset that we had a big graduating class, so we were trying to look to what we could do for the future once the seniors left. This was a phenomenal senior class, probably one of the most successful that the school has had.”
Although Independence is losing a large chunk of its starting varsity squad from this season, the underclassmen should benefit from the experience of 2019 – including a taste of playing in the district tournament. That experience Bossman hopes will carry them right back to the district tournament next year, and potentially beyond.
“This year didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but the experience it gave those sophomores, and the couple of freshmen that played, I think it’ll be valuable for next year,” he said. “It’ll be a big ask for them to take that leadership role, but I think they’ll be up for it.
“With this group next year, I don’t want to put any expectations or extra pressure on them being in an unfamiliar role. I want them to be able to play without feeling the pressure where they can learn and not worry about making mistakes.”
Bossman not only brings coaching experience at the high school and club levels, but the first-year head coach has plent of professional soccer experience to draw on as well – including nine years playing in the USL with the Charleston Battery, in addition to attending several MLS training camps.
“I’ve been fortunate having played in college and professionally,” Bossman said. “I had the opportunity to play against the Olympic team in 1995 and that was a phenomenal experience. Whether or not that makes me a better coach, I don’t really know. But I think the experience I have as a player helps because I know what the players are going through. My job is to get the best out of the players and make them successful.”