AFC Ann Arbor has announced another returning assistant joining Eric Rudland’s coaching staff to be goalkeeping coach Jeff Shuk. This is Shuk’s third year with the club and he joins Rod Asllani as returnees from last season’s coaching staff. Upon returning, Shuk is already looking forward to his time spent over the summer with the club, saying, “Nothing beats the day to day grind with great people. One thing is sure, Rudland brings in men of high character who are a joy to work with on the field and off.”
On his goalkeepers’ coach, Rudland said, “Having Shuky back positions us well to recruit aspiring goalkeepers for this next year, and develop them daily while they are with us…Under his tutelage our GKs have risen to the next level.” Shuk was instrumental in helping Mike Novotny become the club’s Defensive Player of the Year and a member Football Manager’s Season’s Best Eleven before signing on with Hartford Athletic for the upcoming season. With experience in helping players like TJ Tomasso in net earlier in his time with The Mighty Oak, this proves invaluable for the netminders’ coach in helping those younger players buy into what he is selling.
Along with his post at AFCAA, Shuk is the Director of Goalkeeping for Rush Soccer while also serving as the Michigan State Youth Soccer Association ODP Goalkeeping Director. Like his fellow assistant Asllani as well as Boyzzz Khumalo, he also serves as an assistant with Madonna University. Shuk brings a myriad of experiences as a coach and director over with him as he continues to serve the AFC keepers well.
Shuk holds a USSF A License along with Goalkeeping and National Youth Licenses. He is well-versed in coaching players both at the youth levels as well as the level of the NPSL, allowing him to approach coaching from a multitude of angles. He takes care to approach things from a club angle, but also a personal angle, “I look at my responsibility with the club as two-fold: make sure our goalkeepers are prepared to be their best for the club, [and to] make sure they are getting closer to the individual goals they have set.”
Before becoming a coach, Shuk also spent time as a player in the NPSL with Detroit Arsenal. Arsenal won the NPSL National Championship in 2005 and Shuk played a key role within the organization. Shuk sees parallels within the structure of AFCAA and his prior NPSL side, saying, “That Arsenal organization philosophy was similar to what is happening here at AFC AA right now. That first NPSL Championship lets me realize how high the level of this league is and how different each organization is. The DNA of the league hasn't changed much since 2005, however, the growth of the league is unbelievable.”
The playing experience has allowed him to approach his post with a different dimension on a different level than many coaches may have in the league. Having an understanding of what it takes to make it at a high level within the league those who play for AFCAA wish to obtain, he can truly speak from experience in telling of what it takes.
As the head coach put it, “Shuky is very knowledgeable not only of the league, but also the league’s history. He also has experience as both a player and a coach which makes him relatable to the players.” Tcommon ground makes for a coaching staff with not just experience at this level, but also credibility.
Having been around the AFCAA Family for multiple years, that environment is one of the things Shuk loves the most about the club. “Everyone from the top down treats each other like family. There is no arrogance or entitlement, everybody knows their job and works tirelessly. From the players to the owners to the supporters everyone knows each other and enjoys one another.” Shuk joked, “I'll often [say] the only bad days with AFC AA are off-season days.” Supporters of The Mighty Oak will surely agree and look forward to the end of those ‘bad off-season days’ to come to a close with the start of the NPSL season now firmly in the horizon.