Earning his first college head coaching position at South Carolina in July 2010, Josh Goffi wasted little time cementing his reputation as an elite recruiter with a solid strategic mind and excellent player development skills. Four seasons into his tenure, the Gamecocks' program is a reflection of his clear view of the culture that breeds success, signing two top-three recruiting classes (2011, 2014), leading the program to its highest final ranking in nearly a decade (18th in 2013) and developing two All-Americans and four All-SEC selections while earning SEC and ITA Carolina Region Coach of the Year honors (2013).
"Regardless of if you want a culture or not, there is going to be one," Goffi said. "We came here with a very distinct idea of what we wanted to do as far as culture. A culture of excellence and success builds on itself, and a head coach's job is to create a culture that creates players. That is the whole goal. If you are just in it to build a player, it is very individualized. The culture here is holistic. Here we have a standard of excellence that has to be reached every day, and there is a level of accountability, just like in the real world. That's the culture we decided to build, and that culture will inevitably breed success."
Goffi did not have to wait long for his team to find success, as the win column increased each of his first three years and his fourth was highlighted by the program's first NCAA Tournament win in nine years. The foundations of the program's rebirth were set almost immediately upon Goffi's arrival when his first recruiting class (2011) was ranked No. 3 in the nation by TennisRecruiting.net, the program's first appearance in the organization's rankings. He solidified the Gamecocks' future with another No. 3 class in 2014.
"A mistake a lot of coaches and CEOs make is putting the product first," Goffi said. "They go after that instant gratification or the immediate profit. That's easy. We can recruit those kids to get immediate results. But what we do is go after the kid with the character and the backbone to take on that heavy load to really be successful, and the end result is going to be something phenomenal. That is what we're looking for - kids who have the depth that can take the progression to be a Gamecock tennis player. We attack the person first, get in there to develop those skills and steps, those character traits that are necessary for success. From there, the tennis is easy. At some point, your tools will be there. But, a tennis layer is not built on tools. That is just part of the game. The actual successful tennis player has a deep, deep well that he can dig into. So, you have to develop that trait first."
Goffi proved he can develop that successful tennis player right out of the gate. In his second season (2011-12), Goffi developed a team that routinely played with three freshmen and two sophomores in the singles lineup into one that finished the season ranked No. 41 in the nation, earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament and boasted two entries in the final singles rankings as well as a top-30 doubles tandem. The youthful group doubled the team's overall and SEC win totals from the previous season, including seven wins over ranked teams with five of those coming on the road. The team grew steadily into its success, closing the regular season by winning five of its last 10 matches before heading into postseason action.
The following season (2013), their confidence soared, believing in their coach and themselves to power their way to an 18-11 record and a No. 18 final ranking, the program's highest since the 2005 squad closed the season at No. 16. Goffi's motivational efforts helped his team post the most SEC wins in school history and earn its highest conference finish since joining the league in the 1991-92 campaign. Three Gamecocks earned All-SEC honors, and Goffi brought in SEC and ITA Carolina Region Coach of the Year honors. The master tactician was not finished, however, coaching Tsvetan Mihov to All-America honors, the program's first since 2003, in the NCAA Singles Championship, including a win over the No. 2 player in the nation in the opening round. Goffi repeated the feat a year later, guiding Andrew Adams to All-America status as well, upending the Nos. 3 and 26 players in the country along the way.
South Carolina's young head coach further proved his value in 2014, steering his team out of a "sophomore slump" following its breakout 2013 campaign. The Gamecocks opened the SEC season dropping four straight to fall to 7-9 on the season before pulling out of the skid to win three straight and nine of their last 13 to earn their third-straight NCAA Tournament selection. The season culminated in the program's first NCAA Tournament win since 2005 and Adam's All-America performance at the NCAA Singles Championships.
Despite this being in just his first head coaching position, Goffi has been trained by some of the best coaches in the world, including his father, 1991 World Coach of the Year, Carlos Goffi. The breadth of his exposure to elite level players and coaches helped the younger Goffi quickly formulate the basic tenets of his program.
Goffi joined South Carolina after just four seasons as an assistant coach, the last two of which were spent at Duke University with head coach Ramsey Smith, son of tennis legend Stan Smith. The duo wasted little time in returning the Blue Devils to national prominence, turning Duke's sub-.500 record in 2008 into a 16-9 mark in 2009 and a No. 14 final ranking in 2010, the program's highest ranking in three years. The Blue Devils' 20-9 overall record in 2010 included a 10-2 ACC mark, which slotted them second in the league and propelled them to the ACC Championship final match.
The turnaround came largely on the recruiting prowess of Goffi as he inked 2009's top recruit in the world in Brazilian Henrique Cunha. Under Goffi's tutelage, Cunha was named ITA National Rookie of the Year and earned 2010 ACC Player and Freshman of the Year honors. Cunha advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship and finished the season ranked No. 3 in the nation. He and teammate Reid Carleton were named ITA National Doubles Team of the Year after closing the season as the top team in the nation behind a school-record 41-6 record that saw them advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship.
For his effort in catapulting Duke's program into the national limelight, including a spot in the 2010 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, Goffi was named ITA Carolina Region Assistant Coach of the Year. It was his second regional honor as he was named ITA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2008 while helping Arizona State's women's team to a 15-8 record that saw the Sun Devils ranked No. 23 in the nation at season's end. After joining the staff of legendary head coach Sheila McInerney in 2006, Goffi worked closely with individual players on setting goals and strengthening their strategic, tactical and mental abilities.
Goffi began his coaching career after spending four years on the ATP Tour (2001-05). During his professional career, he amassed 18 doubles titles, including three Challengers, rising as high as No. 121 in the ATP in doubles (July 5, 2004). His singles career saw him rise to No. 488 in the ATP (June 16, 2003) as he won a Masters event in Sardinia, Italy, in 2001 and the USTA Sprint Futures title in Elkin, N.C., in 2003. Goffi also claimed the doubles title at the North Carolina tournament, making him one of just six people in the world to turn the double championship in an event that year. Among his six singles wins over top-100 ATP players is a 2004 straight-set win over Stanislas Wawrinka, who later teamed with Roger Federer to win the gold medal for Switzerland in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Before entering the professional ranks, Goffi plied his craft as the top singles player at Clemson University. A three-time All-ACC selection for the Tigers, he earned both the singles and doubles conference championships in 1999 and was a member of the 2000 and 2001 NCAA All-Region teams. He rose as high as No.9 in the singles national rankings and No. 3 in doubles while leading Clemson to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a spot in the 2001 ACC Tournament final. A two-time Academic All-ACC selection, Goffi earned the team's "Mr. Clutch Award" for displaying the courage, heart and determination necessary to pull through at crucial times in 2001. In his four-year career, Goffi posted an 84-64 singles record and an 85-50 mark in doubles. He earned his bachelor of science in financial management in 2001.
Goffi grew up around tennis' elite, lingering around his father's Tournament Tough Tennis Academy to hear the wisdom of various internationally renowned coaches even before he officially embarked on his competitive tennis career at the age of 14. Seeing his father coach the likes of John and Patrick McEnroe, Peter Fleming and Mary Carillo, Goffi absorbed and now implements some of his father's strengths.
"[My dad] is one of the best mental coaches in the world," Goffi said. "He knows how to motivate and how to put things in perspective. As a coach, when you walk on the court, the whole idea is to put things in perspective for the player, who feels like there's a massive magnifying glass on him."
Goffi is married to the former Nancy Augustyniak, a former professional soccer player who spent time with the United States National Team in 2000 and 2001 after a standout career at Clemson. The couple has two daughters, Eliana and Clara.