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SOCA Announces Staff and Board Changes

SOCA recently announced a series of staff and Board changes. The leadership revisions kick off 2016 with great excitement.

Late in 2015 SOCA initiated several exciting structural changes that will help the club continue to serve local families with high quality, progressive soccer programming for all ages and levels. These changes feature new positions on staff, new staff members, and new roles for existing staff and Board members. SOCA will have some new leadership in 2016 while maintaining the core staff and Board that has successfully directed the club for decades. The reallocation of resources will allow each staff member to most fully apply their strongest attributes to the advantage of the organization.

The SOCA Board of Directors has a new President. Don Long was voted into the role and has accepted the position. Don is a local attorney with the firm Lenhart Pettit and first joined the SOCA Board in 2014. He and his wife Valerie have enjoyed coaching their two sons in the program for many years, starting at Hot Shots and through the Recreation and Challenge Programs. Currently their boys play in SOCA’s Travel Program while Don participates in SOCA’s Over 40 League.

John Gobble is SOCA’s new Vice President, filling a vacancy on last year’s Board. John has been involved with SOCA since his own youth playing days and is a second generation Board member following in the footsteps of his father who served during John’s youth. A local banker, John and his wife Kelly have three children in the program from Hot Shots to the Elite travel program and John has enjoyed coaching all of them at a variety of levels in addition to serving on the Board.

A hearty THANK YOU to out-going president Rick Natale. Rick served as President from 2005-2015, a ten year run that marked the longest tenure of any SOCA president in its 34 year history. Rick helped guide the club through a decade of tremendous growth and achievement and has been instrumental to SOCA’s success. Rick will continue to serve on the Board in the short term as an at large member. Thank You Rick!

On staff, Executive Director Bill Mueller will assume a new position, Director of Soccer. Bill joined the SOCA staff in a full time capacity in 1995 as SOCA’s Program Director and shortly thereafter assumed the role of Executive Director. His leadership transformed SOCA from a humble club held together by a band of parent volunteers and a threadbare staff, to a respected local institution, a model emulated by other local sports clubs as well as youth soccer clubs around the state. Bill’s integrity and professionalism have guided the SOCA staff and overseen the development of several generations of players.

In his new role, Bill will be able to direct more of his focus on his original calling and true love of developing soccer players. As Director of Soccer, Bill will assume many of the functions previously held by the Technical Director and will manage SOCA’s supplemental programs, camps and academies. He will supervise the club’s soccer programming and further develop and refine SOCA’s player curriculum. Additionally, Bill will take a lead in improving SOCA’s communication with its members.

The Director of Soccer will work closely with Dan Ensley who will continue in his role as Director of Coaching. The DOS and DOC will ensure that SOCA continues to be on the cutting edge of youth player development.

Stepping into the role of Executive Director is Matt Wilson. Matt has worked at SOCA since 1999, originally as the Administrator and most recently and primarily as the Program Director. Matt will be charged with implementing SOCA’s strategic plan, developing new initiatives, maintaining important relationships and shepherding SOCA into the future. He will be seeking opportunities to grow the club locally and continuing to improve its standing regionally. Matt is a local SOCA product with a passion for the game and the club, and a vision for a truly full service club that we can all be proud of. Job one will be to bring the SOCA Field House to reality and embark on a multi-year program of facility improvements in both SOCA regions.

Filling the Program Director role will be Andy Wilson. Andy has served as SOCA’s Administrator and Challenge Program Coordinator since 2013. In his new role Andy will work closely with the Director of Soccer to manage SOCA’s programs and will be in charge of securing fields and producing schedules. He will also continue in his role as Challenge Coordinator.

As 2016 begins we say goodbye and thank you to two Charlottesville based SOCA staff members who left us at the end of 2015 to pursue other projects. Sam Miller returned to his hometown of Cincinnati to work with his former club Kings Hammer, while also pursuing a playing career with new USL club FC Cincinnati. Stuart Pierson meanwhile, has departed to spend more time focusing on his financial services firm.

As we say goodbye to some on staff we welcome new faces as well. Three new full time staff members have signed on to be part of the SOCA staff in Charlottesville and all will be on the job full time by the start of February.

Matt Rowe and Jimmy Tharpe both come to SOCA by way of the CVU club in Lynchburg. Both men are Virginia natives and played collegiately at Lynchburg College prior to working at CVU. As part of the CVU staff they helped lead the club to seven consecutive Skyline Club Soccer League championships. Both have USSF National B licenses and have experience coaching collegiately as well as at the club level. Matt will be coaching in our Elite Travel program and will become the administrator of SOCA’s Adult League. Jimmy will take charge of SOCA’s Premier Travel Program where he will coordinate the teams and coaches as well as coach himself. We are excited to have these two new additions to our coaching staff.

Additionally this spring, SOCA will have a new Recreational Program Coordinator in Charlottesville and Albemarle. Long time Recreation Coordinator Don Dolinger will be stepping into an operations role that will allow him to trim his hours somewhat while still maintaining a healthy involvement with the club. His program focus will now be the Hot Shots Program. In Don’s stead, his son Chris will become the new coordinator of the Recreational Program. Many local families will know Chris as the manager of Total Soccer where he has worked for several years. Chris is a local SOCA product from a family with deep SOCA roots who will bring a passion for the game to the job as well as local knowledge and administrative skills. We think families will like his customer service oriented personality.

The final change in staffing is the creation of a new position in Charlottesville in charge of the Classic travel program. The Classic Coordinator will manage the Classic teams and coaches similar to the role of the Premier Coordinator in the Premier travel program. Jason Moore will move into this slot and begin to observe Classic matches this spring while still coaching Elite teams.

Lecky Stone and Lynda Tubridy in Charlottesville and Nora Maguire White, Mark Yurish and Shannon Harris in Augusta are all still in place in their respective roles. We are considering moving the Administrator role in Charlottesville from a part-time to a full time position this year and will announce that if and when the position changes.

2016 will be an exciting year at SOCA! The staff and Board are energized and eager to get started in their new roles. We are happy to welcome new talents to the staff and old talents to new positions. We look forward to seeing you on the field. Let’s make it a great year!