College Soccer News annually recognizes assistant coaches across the country who excel at their trade. In past years as many as twenty assistant coaches have been recognized but this year the number was limited to
an even dozen. A little more weight was put on team success this year than in prior seasons. The selections include some who have been honored in the past as well as some not previously recognized. There are many excellent assistant coaches in the collegiate ranks who have a tremendous impact on college soccer programs throughout the United States. We acknowledge up front that in making our selections we are going to leave off some very deserving assistant coaches. However, as in the past, we are confident that the twelve selected are deserving and worthy of recognition. The background of the coaches selected varies and each brings different things to the game but all inspire the players they coach to become something greater than they could have become by themselves.
Many of the assistant coaches that College Soccer News has recognized in past years are now head coaches. Assistant coaches honored in the past who are now head coaches include Mike Freitag at Indiana, Kevin Grimes at California, Cameron Rast at Santa Clara, Bill Irwin at Portland, Jeff Rohrman at Wisconsin, Darren Powell at Elon, Robert McCourt at Monmouth, Jesse Cormier at Vermont, Mike Jacobs at Evansville, Kelly Findley at Butler, Leo Chappel at Columbia, Erik Ronning at Colgate, Brian Wiese at Georgetown, Brad Agoos at Seattle University, Bobby Muuss at Denver, Munga Eketebi at FIU, and Jamie Clark at Harvard.
Kevin Anderson – Boston College – The 2007 campaign was Anderson’s second season as a member of Ed Kelly’s coaching staff at Boston College. The Eagles were 15-5-1 overall in 2007 capturing both the ACC regular and tournament titles. Anderson is a solid technician of the game and does an excellent job on the recruiting trail. Prior to coming to Boston College he served as an assistant coach at Columbia University for two years and for two years at his alma mater Southern Connecticut. Anderson was an NSCAA First Team All-America selection at Southern Connecticut State where he helped the Owls secure a national title his senior season. He played professionally for ten years and holds a USSF National “A” Coaching license.
Michael Brizendine – Virginia Tech – The 2007 season was Brizendine’s fourth as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech under head coach Oliver Weiss. The Hokies finished the 2007 campaign with a 14-4-5 overall record and advanced to the College Cup for the first time in the history of the program. Weiss stated, “Mike is a very good assistant coach. He is bright, enthusiastic, and always looking to improve our soccer program.” The Hokies are a healthy 44-27-12 in the four seasons that Brizendine has been at Virginia Tech. Prior to coming to Blacksburg, Brizendine was the head coach at Bridgewater where he transitioned the program from a non-competitive status to a Division III program. He has an Advanced National Coaching License from the NSCAA and has a USSF “B” license.
Andy Fleming – Northwestern – The 2007 season was Fleming’s first year as an associate head coach at Northwestern under head coach Tim Lenahan. The Wildcats were 12-5-3 overall with a 3-2-1 mark in Big Ten play in 2007 and earned the program’s third invite to the NCAA Tourney in the past four seasons. Fleming has developed into a very effective trainer, has a proven record of success as a recruiter, and has what Lenahan describes as a “winning mentality.” Prior to coming to Northwestern Fleming was assistant coach at Boston University for nine years during which time the Terriers had eight winning seasons. Fleming played collegiate soccer at Marist College where he was an assistant coach for one season following his graduation. He holds a USSF “A” License.
Matt Hall – San Diego State – Some might overlook the contribution that Hall has made to the rise in prominence of the program at San Diego State over the past few years but that would be a mistake. Aztec head coach Lev Kirshner would be among the first to praise the work that Hall has done as the program’s recruiting coordinator and in developing the talent of the San Diego State goalkeepers. The statistics regarding the effectiveness of the Aztec netminders over the past few years and the quality of the recruiting classes which San Diego State has attracted are proof positive of the contribution that Hall is making. The 2007 season was Hall’s eighth year as an assistant coach at San Diego State. He played his collegiate soccer in goal for the Aztecs from 1996 through 1998.
Paul McDonough – Connecticut – Head coach Ray Reid describes McDonough as “a relentless recruiter and a very good reader of the game.” Reid added, “Having him on the staff is like having another head coach.” The 2007 season was McDonough’s fifth as an assistant coach at Connecticut under Reid. Peers say that no one does a better job of spanning the globe on the recruiting trail than McDonough. McDonough also assists in all aspects of the day-to-day operations of the Husky soccer program. Connecticut was 20-3-1 overall in 2007 and advanced to the Elite Eight of NCAA Tourney play. Before coming to Connecticut, McDonough was an assistant for two years at South Carolina and an assistant for three seasons at Wake Forest.
Jason Mims – Creighton – A prime timer in the ranks of assistant coaches. Mims has walked the sidelines as an assistant coach under head coach Bob Warming at Creighton for seven seasons. Warming stated, “Jason has continued to do what great coaches do, educating himself and spending countless hours improving his knowledge of the game and working with young players outside of the program.” Mims served as an assistant coach at his alma mater Saint Louis for one year before making the move to Creighton. He is a proven commodity as a teacher of the game as reflected in the fact that the club team that he coaches has claimed five Nebraska state championships including the Region II title in 2007. Mims was an All-Conference selection as a player at Saint Louis.
Sean Phillips – UIC – Head coach John Trask pulls no punches when he talks about Phillips. Trask states, “I have one of the best assistants in the country.” Trask adds, “He has been integral in our emergence as a nationally competitive team.” The 2007 season was Phillips’ third as an assistant at UIC under Trask. The Flames were 13-6-6 in 2007 and advanced to the Elite Eight in NCAA Tourney play for the first time in the history of the program. Phillips is heavily involved in all facets of the program at UIC but his main focus revolves around coaching the squad’s goalkeepers. Phillips’ effectiveness is reflected in the play of College Soccer News All-American and Soccer America MVP goalkeeper Jovan Bubonja. Phillips served as an assistant at Indiana for four seasons prior to coming to UIC.
Frank Speth – Ohio State – The 2007 season was Speth’s ninth as an assistant at Ohio State under head coach John Bluem. Bluem would likely be the first to speak up regarding the contribution Speth makes to the program. Bluem stated, “Frank has been with me for a long time. He is a great trainer of players. In practice sessions he thrives on that and enjoys it.” Bluem summed it up when he stated, “He is also very motivational with the players and is willing to put in the extra time to make them better players.” Prior to coming to Columbus, Speth served as an assistant coach at Fresno State and served as the director of coaching for the Illinois Youth Soccer Association. Ohio State had an outstanding season in 2007 with a 17-4-5 mark that included a new school record for wins in route to a run to the national championship game.
Rob Vartughian – Maryland – Vartughian has been an assistant at the University of Maryland for the past five seasons. He works primarily with goalkeepers but is also actively involved in all aspects of the program. When asked to comment regarding Vartughian, Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski stated, “Rob is an extremely talented all around coach. His soccer instincts, insight, and knowledge are spot on.” Cirovski added, “His passion for the development of our student athletes is secondary only to his compassion for the development of them as people.” Vartughian has been actively involved in youth soccer serving as a head coach in the Maryland ODP program. Prior to coming to Maryland he served as an assistant coach at Penn for two years. Maryland was 10-6-5 overall in 2007 and was a seeded team in the NCAA Tourney for the 6th consecutive season.
Mark Waite – Old Dominion – Waite is among the reasons why the Monarchs consistently field a very competitive team. ODU was 14-7-3 in 2007 and earned their sixth consecutive invite to the NCAA Tourney. Waite has been on the sidelines as an assistant coach at ODU for the past nine seasons including seven under the direction of head coach Alan Dawson. As a player he was a First Team All-American and First Team Academic All-American at Lock Haven University. Waite has a keen eye for talent and the ability to identify players with the potential to make an impact at the collegiate level which others sometimes miss. He is also actively involved in youth soccer serving as the Director of Development for AC Norfolk and holds a USFF “B” coaching license.
Eric Yamamoto – Santa Clara – A highly respected and knowledgeable coach. Yamamoto is synonymous with Santa Clara soccer. The 2007 season was his seventeenth year on the sidelines as an assistant coach for the Broncos. He also was an All-American as a collegiate goalkeeper at Santa Clara. Yamamoto’s effectiveness is demonstrated in the fact that Santa Clara annually fields a team that is tenacious on the defensive side of the ball. Yamamoto is a member of the U.S. National Team coaching staff which has afforded him the opportunity to help develop many of the top goalkeepers in this country. He is also active in youth soccer serving as a coach on various National Youth Teams over the years. In 2007 Santa Clara was 16-2-4 overall earning their eighteenth overall and fifth consecutive NCAA Tourney berth.
Todd Yeagley – Indiana – The 2007 season was Yeagley’s fourth season as a full-time assistant coach at Indiana. Before joining the IU staff he spent seven years with the Columbus Crew of the MLS. A truly soccer savvy assistant coach with tons of credibility as a teacher of the game, leader, and a motivator. Yeagley understands what it takes to be successful at the highest levels of play. He is one of only two four-time All-Americans in the tradition rich Indiana program and was named the National Player of the Year in his senior season. The Hoosiers were 75-9-5 during Yeagley’s four years as a collegiate player. In addition to training Yeagley is involved with recruiting and a variety of administrative duties. Indiana was 13-4-5 in 2007 securing the number four seed in the NCAA Tournament and earning their twenty-first consecutive invite to the big dance.