PA Classics Defender Jake Altimore Finding Success Off the Field Too

By Matt Ralph/NPSL.com

It’s never too early to start coaching, something Jake Altimore – who is playing his second season with PA Classics in NPSL this summer – has embraced since he was a kid rushing to get his homework done so he could go with his dad to training and games.

“Ever since I was little, I was with him at practices and going into games and even scouting other teams,” Jake Altimore said. “I’d rush to get all my homework done at school so we could go and watch the games together and I was all about it.”

That seed planted when Jake was young followed him as a player through his youth days playing for Ballyhoo FC and into college as he started sharing the sidelines with his dad, Bret Altimore, as an assistant for one of the top youth teams not only in Central Pennsylvania but throughout the state and region.

Last summer in between training and playing NPSL games with PA Classics, Jake Altimore was helping coach the Ballyhoo FC 2007 boys to a national title, which they won at the US Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup in Wichita. 

“To actually be part of the coaching staff and have such a successful season was kind of a dream in the sense where it’s almost surreal,” Jake said of the national title run with his dad. “He was even my coach for a while so we always had that player-coach relationship and obviously the father-son relationship but coaching together took it to another level where we weren’t just loving the game together but were part of something together that was really special.” 

Bret had a similar thing to say about the experience of winning a national title with his son on his staff and continuing that into this season. 

“Watching Jake interact with the players, passing on his knowledge, wisdom, experience and passion for the game is inspiring,” said Bret, who has also coached at the high school and college level since 2000. “I am in awe of his ability to relate and communicate to the athletes at such a young age.”

Jake has made 46 appearances over the past three seasons at Millersville University and has been a stalwart in both the back line and central midfield for PA Classics in the early going of their second NPSL season. 

The leadership he has shown on the field organizing the defense has translated into coaching where he is able to connect with players as someone closer in age to them while leaning on his communication skills to make sure players are clear what is expected of them.  It’s not exactly a good cop, bad cop routine but Jake fills the gap when it comes to screening playlists, understanding slang and modeling what it’s like and what’s expected to play at a high level in college and amateur leagues.

“Communication is a huge part of soccer,” Altimore said. “And if ever you’re struggling on the field, sometimes you can see that you’re not communicating enough or effectively and I think the best example of communication is seen at a high level, definitely at the collegiate level but even beyond that in the pros, they don’t stop talking.”

The communication within the Ballyhoo team was noticeable throughout their run and after winning the national competition was equally as impressive in how they represented the team in media interviews, articulating many of the principals that the Altimores had emphasized throughout the season. 

Though that group came up short in their bid for an Eastern Pennsylvania State Cup this season, falling in overtime against local rival Keystone FC in the state cup semifinal, they repeated as Indoor State Cup champions earlier in the year and are unbeaten in league play with one game remaining. 

In February, the FC Ballyhoo 2007 boys were honored as the Boys Team of the Year by Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer.  Jake and his dad were both at a banquet in Reading, Pa. along with a number of players to accept the honor. 

“I saw it pretty much instantly, so did my dad, that the boys had a love for the game,” Jake said of the Ballyhoo team. “So, when you have a group of guys who want to stay after every single practice and just play where you almost have to shut them down and be like guys, it’s dark out, we gotta go home you know you have something.”

That never stop playing attitude helped fuel their run through the state, regional, and national competition that earned them their trophy in Wichita but it’s also served as an inspiration for Jake who has seen many of the boys show up to support him at games.

“Seeing how these guys react to playing and having fun and enjoying themselves with each other and working reminds me of when I was their age and you couldn’t wait to go out and play with your friends,” Jake said. “It kind of reinvigorates you.”

Looking ahead to the fall, Altimore will want to finish his Millersville career on a high note but before that comes, he’s able to enjoy another summer playing for a club that was a rival of his coming up and to compete with and against a number of top players.

“There’s a lot of elite level players on the team, a lot of Division I players from esteemed universities,” Jake said. “It’s a great experience getting to play with and meet new players who push you to raise your level.” 

 

Photo Credit: Matt Ralph and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer

 

 

 

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