As reported in my May “Sport Shorts” article, Kingsway’s longtime girls soccer coach, John Kodluk, who molded the girls soccer program into one of the top programs in South Jersey, was stricken with a heart attack and passed away at the age of 57.
He amassed a career record of 133-116-18 and had his girls ranked permanently in the top 10 in South Jersey. He was known for his sound training program as well as his ability to communicate effectively the objectives, goals, and expectations of his program.
He is a tough act to follow.
However, Kingsway has found just the right person to continue Kodluk’s work in Jayme Gatti.
Gatti, who resides in Delran, has been Kodluk’s top assistant for the past two years and has been instrumental in the team’s recent success. She also teaches in Kingsway’s business department.
She was an all-star caliber goalkeeper during her playing days at Delran High School and graduated in 2005 as a four-year varsity letter winner. Gatti then spent a year at Rowan University before later moving on to Rutgers-Camden University.
Playing soccer at both institutions, she was named as captain as a senior and was named all-conference. Upon graduation, Gatti spent a year as an assistant coach at Rutgers-Camden before coming to Kingsway.
The cupboard certainly is not bare in the Kingsway program. Coming off of an 11 win season and an appearance in the state playoffs, the girls team has lots of experience back and expects to make a deeper run into the state tournament. Gatti will be tasked with instituting some tweaks to their offensive and defensive philosophies and then getting her girls to gel as a unit.
Having been with these girls for most, if not all of their high school careers, the connection is there to implement these changes.
“I stress a playing style that calls for possession all the way through my lineup, from the defense to our forwards,” Gatti said. “We want to have possession of the ball at all times. Being here with these girls and knowing them, they have been able to buy into this style.”
“Four games in, we’re working out kinks. We have some positions to still figure out and work on. We’re making adjustments and building on what we have. I am extremely excited about our current direction, and this will be an exciting ride to take.”
Athletic Director June Cioffi was very excited about the attributes that Gatti brings to the table.
“Coach Gatti has been a rock for our program since Coach Kodluk’s passing, and she is more than ready to lead this program moving forward,” said Cioffi. “Her passion and professionalism are seen in her players, and it shows. She simply knows soccer inside and out.”
As for Gatti’s long term goals at Kingsway, she has a few.
“I want our teams to continue to be competitive in every game we play and consistently compete for the conference title,” said Gatti. “I hope to be here for a while and continue instilling a sense of pride in the program. While the circumstances for my promotion were not how I would have wanted, I have always aspired to be a varsity head coach, and I am very comfortable in this role.”
It sounds like Kingsway is in for some real excitement with Gatti at the helm.
— By Christian Lynch