Valparaiso University director of athletics Mark LaBarbera has announced that Mike Avery has been named the third head coach in the 24 years of the Crusader men's soccer program.
?Mike Avery has been a successful head coach and has worked with some of the top coaches in the country," LaBarbera said of hiring Avery. ?We are excited to be able to bring a person of his caliber to campus to lead our soccer program."
Avery arrives at Valpo from the University of Louisville where he was the top assistant under head coach Ken Lolla in 2006. While with the Cardinals, he helped the program to its first Big East Conference Tournament berth. He also served as the program's recruiting coordinator.
?I am disappointed to be losing Mike from our program, yet I am excited for Valpo and for Mike," Lolla said of Avery. ?He is more than prepared for this job and will have lots of years of success."
Before heading to Louisville, Avery was an assistant for six seasons at the University of Notre Dame, where the Fighting Irish won a pair of Big East titles in 2003 and 2004. Notre Dame made five straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including two trips to the Sweet 16. Avery helped recruit and coach 11 All-America selections, four M.A. C. Hermann Trophy semifinalists, and the 2006 NCAA Division I Hermann Award winner, Joe Lapira.
?I think Valpo has hired a wonderful coach," Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. ?Mike is over ready for this job and Valpo is very lucky to have his knowledge and enthusiasm."
Prior to his stint at Notre Dame, Avery spent three seasons as the director of soccer at Cal State University, San Bernardino. While there, he served as the head coach of both the men's and women's varsity teams. In three seasons as men's coach at Cal State San Bernardino, Avery led the Coyotes through a successful rebuilding campaign.
Avery began his coaching career at Bethel College (Ind.) where he was the head men's and women's soccer coach for three seasons. He led the men's team through a rebuilding process, finishing with a 43-20-6 record, including an 18-4-2 mark in 1996. He was named the Mid Central Conference Coach of the Year and NCCAA Regional Coach of the Year in both 1995 and 1996, and in his final season with the Pilots, 1996, he led the men to a #1 national ranking in the NCCAA poll as well as a #11 ranking in the NAIA poll, both firsts for the program. In 1996, he was the head coach of the women in their inaugural season.
Avery played at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. from 1986-1989 where he was a two-time honorable mention All-American and four-time All-Conference and All-Far West selection while helping lead the Warriors to three NAIA national tournament appearances.
He received his degree in physical education in 1990 from Westmont and went on to play professionally both in the United States and abroad, enjoying stints with Real Santa Barbara, Askims IK (Sweden), and serving as a player-coach with the Indiana Invaders. Avery received his master's degree in kinesiology from Midwestern State in 1994.
?I want to thank Mark LaBarbera, Dr. Alan Harre, and the Valparaiso community for allowing me to have this opportunity to be a Division I head coach", Avery said. ?I feel that this program has the ability to do some things that have never been done before at Valpo. I feel like I'm well prepared to take on this challenge because I have learned from two of the very best in the business in college soccer in Ken Lolla and Bobby Clark."