The search for the first head coach of SOU’s new men’s soccer team is almost complete as three finalists toured the campus and practiced with the women’s team in the past week. The team begins officially next fall.
The three finalists are former University of Texas at Brownsville head coach Daniel Balaguero, Mars Hill
University head coach Gary Hamel, and Clark College head coach Biniam Afenegus.
Matt Sayre, SOU’s Athletic Director, said the candidate’s coaching experience and long tenure at their colleges made them stand out, “All of the coaches have been very successful and have been where they are for long periods of time. Both of these are important to us.”
Here’s the breakdown of the finalists experience: Daniel Balaguero:
Balaguero has coached in the NAIA since 2003, excluding the 2006-07 season when he was an assistant for the NCAA Division I University of Maine soccer team. He has coached many teams to region and conference championships as well as reaching the NAIA championship game in 2012.
Hamel has been an assistant at Fort Lewis College and Oregon State University and head coach at Mars Hill University. Mars Hill won the regular season conference title and got an NCAA tournament bid in 2012 with Hamel at the helm.
Afenegus has coached at Clark College since 2007. Since being at Clark, his team has finished first or second in the conference for eight straight seasons. He has won five region championships and one conference championship at Clark.
All three of these candidates have coached winning teams and have been Coach of the Year in their region and/or conference multiple times.
Even though the decision on a coach will be coming soon, possibly by the end of the week, a new coach doesn’t answer all the questions. One will be how SOU will stack up against the already established programs in the CCC. With it being late in the year for recruiting will it be too late to snatch up the better players? Perhaps, but coaching candidate Balageuro says the first season will set a strong foundation and make recruiting easier in the future. He also says he applied in part because of the existing strength of athletic programs at SOU.
Balaguero said of his visit to SOU, “Splendid. I really enjoyed my day here. SOU is very welcoming.” Neither Hamel nor Afenegus were able to be interviewed in time for the article.
When a decision is announced we’ll bring you a follow up to this story. Stay tuned. The Siskiyou should know something within the next week or so.