Former Pine-Richland girls soccer coach breaks new ground with Pa. hall of fame induction

Saturday, January 6, 2024 | 11:01 AM

In 1998, Jodi Chmielewski was one of only a few women in Western Pennsylvania coaching high school soccer and over two decades later, she’s still making history.

Chmielewski amassed over 300 wins, two WPIAL championships and a state title coaching Pine-Richland girls soccer.

Now she’ll be the first female coach inducted into the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame in its 25-year history.

Chmielewski is one of three coaches in the 2024 class, which will be inducted during the PSCA Honors & Awards banquet Jan. 27 at the Penn Harris Hotel in Camp Hill.

“I’m super appreciative for the recognition and Rich Garland from our Western Pennsylvania organization that nominated me,” Chmielewski said. “It’s quite an honor, and it’s pretty neat to be the first female inducted. There are so many more young women coaching now, so I know I won’t be the last.”

Chmielewski coached at Pine-Richland from 1998-2019. A former soccer player, she said she always had an interest in coaching and is pleased to see that there’s more young women getting into the discipline now compared to when she was a young coach.

“At that point, there weren’t many female coaches, but that changed throughout my tenure,” Chmielewski said. “At the beginning, all my mentors were male coaches, and I was fortunate to have some great mentors, but it’s nice now even at the cup level to see more female coaches as well as collegiately. It’s great for the young female players to have those role models in the game now.”

Pine-Richland won consecutive WPIAL titles in 2005-06 during a run that featured future US National Team defender Meghan Klingenberg, who won the World Cup with team USA in 2015.

In 2005, Pine-Richland had a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season but went undefeated the rest of the way. The Rams faced Owen J. Roberts, the top-ranked team in the country, in the championship game and pulled the upset. Jordan Baranowski scored in the first half and the Rams won 1-0.

“They had the trophy there for Owen J. Roberts to get the No. 1 team in the nation after the game,” Chmielewski said. “Our players, coaches and families were probably the only ones that thought we could win that game. It was such a special experience that I’ll never forget.”

Chmielewski got a chance to reunite with many of the members of the ’05 team when the team was inducted into the Pine-Richland Hall of Fame in 2022.

“I still keep in touch with a lot of them,” Chmielewski said. “They were a great group of girls that were fun to coach. They have fun personalities and they worked really hard. We all enjoyed being around each other. Several of them went on to play Division I soccer and of course Meghan (Klingenberg) was a huge part of our success.”

Though Chmielewski has retired from coaching high school soccer, she still gets her coaching fix at the club level with Beadling North. She still enjoys helping young players hone their skills and work toward becoming college soccer players.

“As a coach, you want your players to maximize their potential,” Chmielewski said. “It’s gratifying to see when they work that hard and accomplish their goals. It’s something I still enjoy now coaching club soccer. Helping them through that process, seeing them when they are young and working toward that goal.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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