His Footprints On The Field

Varsity Soccer Coach, Cory Elof’s 200th win and how he’s impacted Lake Ridge

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Courtesy of Lake Ridge Yearbook

Coach Elof, after 14 years with Lake Ridge, earned his 200th coaching victory. Courtesy of Danielle Montgomery

Ryley Anthony, ENN Staff

He’s been head coach of the varsity soccer team at Lake Ridge for 14 years and has successfully won 200 games. Students and administration recognize him for being hard working, supportive of his players, and focused on the aspirations he allocated for the soccer program. Cory Elof, hopes to continue influencing the lives of Lake Ridge students. While he takes pride in his impressive number of wins, he humbly acknowledges that the most important thing about coaching is helping players become successful in all aspects of their lives.  

Preparing for a soccer game can be challenging, but the result of not only winning, but also seeing how the team improves moving forward, is rewarding. There is a strict routine Lake Ridge soccer players must follow in order to reach the goals Elof has set for the school’s soccer program. The team’s daily practices include participating in individual ball work, shooting or passing drills, and going over team concepts. The physical exertion players endure and Elof enforces, is one of the fundamental basis that led the soccer coach to his 200th win. Principal, Ashley Alloway, expresses her admiration for Elof’s hard work and dedication, accentuating how those traits impact his performance. 

“He is consistent. When you stay and you build something for 14 years, people come to know what to expect from you as far as an attitude of excellence and discipline. His players know they have to be students first and athletes second. He expects them to also have great behavior. This all contributed to his 200th win. I’m super pumped for him and glad his 200th win came here, at Lake Ridge. We are really lucky to have had him for so long. I hope the 300th and 400th win happens here too,” said Alloway. 

Elof admits he loves winning. Every time his team beats the other, it’s confirmation that he is doing something right. However, what he appreciates most from his players is how they play the game off the field. The success of students beyond athletic capabilities, is something Elof focuses on in order to ensure contentment within the lives of his players. 

“The most rewarding thing about coaching isn’t necessarily seeing them win a game in high school, but seeing them be successful 5 or 10 years down the road. The most important thing about my job is making a difference in their lives and having a positive impact. I want them to know that I’m with them whether they’re a starter, a bench player, or even a manager. I treat them as equal and how I want to be treated,” said Elof. 

His efforts to secure achievement within players, doesn’t go unnoticed. Students and administration who have worked one on one with Elof, note that his concern for the future of his players, is one of his most pronounced traits. Athletic Director, Kirk Thor, is close with Elof and recognizes the difference he is making in these kid’s lives. 

“He helps the kids grow into good players and even better people. He really cares about the game, but he cares more about developing those players using the tool of soccer. Those kids have learned a lot about life. He’s passionate and has impeccable energy when it comes to his team. I knew right away as soon as Lake Ridge interviewed him he was going to build a great soccer program. He’s positive and hardworking. What you see in him, you will see in him everyday moving forward,” said Thor.

Elof accepts the challenges that come with keeping the players motivated, selecting who’s on and off the field, and keeping them in a mental space where they are ready to give their best effort. However, the most impactful experience Elof has had as a coach were student deaths on the team. Elof appreciates the support his players showed for him and each other, during those difficult times. 

“They give me a perspective of life and how things can change in a hurry. We’ve had two major deaths in our program. That has impacted me as well as the players. It’s been difficult as a coach, but I try to cherish moments with the kids and tell them nothing is guaranteed. My students show me that you have to make the most of each moment,” said Elof.

The relationship between a coach and their players is crucial to the outcome of the game. As Elof continues to prioritize the connection he has with students, his efforts are evident in the success of the soccer program. Junior Soccer player, Jackson Turley, has known Elof since age eight and is proud of his 200th win. He respects Elof for his knowledge of the game and the impact he is having on the team.

“His knowledge of the game makes him good at his job. Players that want to play one position, he will put in another because he knows how to use them on the field to guarantee a win. He’s impacted me positively by providing me with great memories. We went to the playoffs last year and we had a lot of team trips. We went to a Midwestern state and it’s just been a lot of fun. He’s nice to us and makes soccer a cool experience. He sets an example that you always have to do your best. Nothing can be minimum effort,” said Turley.

Junior soccer player, Yury Waburaka, believes a large part of Elof’s success comes from his ability to make the team feel comfortable and included.

“What makes Elof good at his job is the way he treats the players. He is able to deal with all sorts of people and make everyone feel comfortable. I’ve known Coach Elof for 3 years and I’ve valued the advice he’s given me on and off the field. He’s influenced me to work harder. I’m proud of him and I wanna tell him to keep doing his thing, cause he’s doing it well,” said Waburaka.

First impressions go a long way and whether he realizes it or not, Elof has made an impactful one on his players and co-workers. Beyond his work ethic, Elof is appreciated for his stern but entertaining personality. Alloway reflects on the memories she has with Elof and how that has improved her experience at Lake Ridge.

“When I first met him 10 years ago, I was a coach then too. I thought he looked like a surfer. Back then he had long hair, wore flip flops, and board shorts. I knew he was a lot of fun and really knowledgeable. He reminds me to be a little more lighthearted and to make sure I have fun in everything I do. He’s an example that you should be kind and thoughtful to other people. I want people to know he’s a fierce competitor, but that he is one of the most fun people I know,” said Alloway.