No shortage of candidates for vacant coaching position
By Rob Daniels
The process has barely begun, and Rod Wyatt knows what the hard part will be.
UNCG’s associate athletic director with administrative oversight for women’s soccer, hip-deep in e-mails, phone messages and other forms of communication, hasn’t had to solicit intriguing candidates for the university’s coaching job, vacated Dec. 17 when Eddie Radwanski accepted the position at Clemson. The challenge is in trimming the applicant tree to three or four interview subjects.
“We’re looking for someone with Division I experience who has been successful as an assistant or head coach,” Wyatt said. “We also want someone who understands the dynamics of the women’s game and who can continue to elevate us as Eddie has.”
The eventual choice will seek to expand upon Radwanski’s considerable achievements, which include a string of Southern Conference regular-season championships. UNCG is one of only eight institutions nationwide to have made three of the past five NCAA tournaments without the financial and marketing arm of a football program in the athletics department.
“We have received a great deal of interest in our position, which is not unexpected given the success that we've had,” UNCG Director of Athletics Kim Record said. “We are not looking for a coach who can build a program, because we have a great foundation. We are looking for a coach who can take our program to the next level while maintaining the strong commitment to academic success we've enjoyed.”
The program shows no signs of stagnation. The 2010 Spartans won 19 games and were ranked as highly as 10th at one point, and nine players who started 10 or more contests are expected to return. That includes goalkeeper Kelsey Kearney, who is on track to obliterate the Southern Conference’s career record for shutouts; Kristen Schmidbauer, a freshman who tied for the league lead in scoring with 26 points; Tabitha Padgett, the 2009 SoCon Co-Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year; and Cat Barnekow, who finished third nationally this season with 14 assists.
The composition of the roster is another indication of UNCG’s commitment to the program. The 2010 team included six Californians, two players from Washington and another from Colorado.
UNCG has enjoyed continuity in women’s soccer, having had only two coaches in its Division I history: Radwanski and Jack Poland, who guided the program from 1988-2000. Wyatt said there are no geographical boundaries attached to the job.
“We have gotten some pretty good interest over the last few days,” Wyatt said. “We’re going to find a quality candidate who will continue to move the program forward.”
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