Conference-Winning Coach Departs Saint Leo to explore other Opportunities
SAINT LEO, Fla. – After seven seasons, numerous All-Americas and a Sunshine State Conference championship, Joel Harrison has resigned his post as head coach of the Saint Leo men's soccer team, it was announced by Saint Leo Director of Athletics Francis X. Reidy on Friday morning.
"First, I would like to thank Fran (Reidy) and Dr. (Arthur) Kirk for the opportunity to be a part of the Saint Leo Community," Harrison said when announcing his departure. "The growth of Saint Leo and the Athletic Department under their leadership is nothing short of amazing, and with current projects and future plans it will continue to get better."
Harrison, who was the announced as the Lions' leader in 2004, compiled an overall 69-40-6 record in his seven years in central Pasco County after coming from Newberry College (SC) the previous year. Within the Sunshine State Conference he went 29-24-3 during his time, but it was the memorable 2005 season that many will remember when thinking of Harrison's tenure in the Green and Gold.
In only his second season, the Indianapolis, Ind. native led the men's soccer team to the school's first-ever Sunshine State Conference Regular Season Championship and a South Region Championship appearance, another first. That 2005 season saw the Lions go 15-2 overall and 7-1 in the SSC as they jumped to the top spot in the national rankings.
"I've been coaching college soccer for over 20 years and have made a lot of personal sacrifices to pursue professional goals," Harrison continued. "With some exciting changes taking place in my personal life it will be difficult to make those sacrifices, which makes this a good time to step away."
"I want to thank Joel for bringing the first Sunshine State Conference Title to Saint Leo. He will always have this special distinction attached to his name," Reidy said reflecting on Harrison's time with Saint Leo. "We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
Named the Sunshine State Conference's Men's Soccer Coach of the Year in 2005, Harrison has guided over 80 student-athletes during his time at Saint Leo. His student-athletes have earned numerous, wide-ranging honors from the first CoSIDA Academic All-America winner at Saint Leo in over 10 years (Bruce Cutler, 2010), to All America, All-Region and All-Conference awards.
Harrison finished by saying, "Lastly, I would like to thank all the players I have coached over the years. Their time, effort and dedication were greatly appreciated. I was blessed to coach not only some excellent soccer players but young men with outstanding character and integrity."
The search for Harrison's replacement will begin immediately.