MELBOURNE, Fla. – After serving as the interim coach following the passing of former Florida Tech head women’s soccer coach and Hall of Famer Fidgi Haig, Dustin Smith was officially named head coach of the Panthers on Friday.
A smooth transition, Smith assumes the role after five previous seasons on the bench as an assistant under Haig. Within that same span, Florida Tech accumulated a combined record of 47-32-13, including three NCAA Tournament appearances, one Final Four appearance, an NCAA Division II South Region Championship and one Sunshine State Conference Regular Season Co-Championship.
All too humbled, Smith is very gracious for the opportunity.
“You can never replace a man like Fidgi, but I am going to do my best to carry on what we envision for the program,” said Smith. “I would like to thank Athletics DirectorBill Jurgens and the FIT family for its compassion, kindness, loyalty and belief in me. I would also like to thank Fidgi’s wife, Sanna, and the Haig family for their support.”
“We are fortunate to have someone with Dustin’s background and experience taking over as head coach,” said Jurgens. “He is very familiar with the operations of the program having been an assistant coach for the past five years. I’m confident he will continue to move the program in a direction that’ll take it to national prominence. I also know the women’s soccer team believes that Dustin is the right person to move the program forward.”
Smith’s experience stems beyond the Division II level, having coached at Coastal Carolina from 1998-2000 under seven-time Big South Coach of the Year Shaun Docking. While working alongside his former college coach, Smith helped guide the Chanticleers to consecutive Big South Conference Regular Season Championships in each of his two seasons.
“Coach Docking taught me the ins and outs of coaching,” said Smith. “I would also like to thank him for believing in me, and providing me the opportunity to learn the hard way. I’d like to thank two of my colleagues and former teammates, Paul Leese from the University of Texas, Pan American, and Stuart Riddle from the University of Buffalo for their advice.”
The Charleston Southern University grad has been the driving force behind Orlando City ECNL and Space Coast Soccer Club’s U17 girls clubs, with a combined nine seasons under his belt between the two organizations.
Smith’s strong ties to the area go as far back to his playing days as a captain of the 1994 Melbourne High School state championship team.
Following his time as a Bulldog, Smith continued his playing career as a four-year starter from 1994-98 at Charleston Southern. As a member of the Buccaneers, he captained the 1997 squad to a 16-5-1 record, clinching the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament berth against the No. 2 nationally ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. Smith received Big South Conference honors in 1996 and 1997.
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MELBOURNE, Fla. – Florida Tech head women’s soccer coach Fidgi Haig passed away from natural causes on Thursday at 47 years old. Read the full story.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Brenna McKee (Sr., Austin, Texas) of Rollins College and Lavinia Nkomo (Jr., Southampton, England) of Barry University are named National Soccer Coaches Association Scholar (NSCAA) All-Americans. The NSCAA selects collegiate student-athletes as Scholar All-Americans for their dual accomplishments on the field and in the classroom. Read the full story.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Alicia Schuck of Rollins College was named the Division II women’s soccer Coach of the Year, it was announced on Tuesday. Schuck will be presented her award Friday, Jan. 16 at the annual NSCAA Awards Banquet, held in conjunction with the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia. Read the full story.