Gookins Named Men’s Soccer Head Coach
Kyle Gookins, the 2014 NSCAA Southeast Regional Assistant Coach of the Year, has been named as men’s soccer head coach at Stetson, Athletics Director Jeff Altier announced today.
Gookins has spent the last nine seasons at Charlotte, helping the 49ers to a combined 125-43-25 (.712) record, seven NCAA Tournament appearances, five total conference championships and one NCAA College Cup final, in 2011.
“I am thrilled for the future of Stetson Men’s Soccer,” Senior Associate Athletic Director Alicia Queally said. “We had a great candidate pool, and when it came time for the search committee to make the final selection, it was clear that Kyle Gookins was the right choice for the Hatters. He exudes many of the qualities that we look for in both our student-athletes and staff members. To date, he has had a tremendous career as an assistant coach, while working with some of the best head coaches in the business. We look forward to him establishing a culture of champions with the talented young men in our program. I know that his leadership skills and strong recruiting background will take the program to the next level. We are excited to welcome Kyle and his wife, Megan, to the Hatter family.”
Gookins is a 2004 graduate of Cal State Bakersfield, from where he also earned a Master’s degree in 2008. In addition to his incredible on-field success with the 49ers, Gookins coached and/or recruited four Freshman All-Americans, six Academic All-Americans, three NSCAA All-Americans and 22 all-region players at Charlotte. Eleven of his former players at Charlotte are currently playing in the professional ranks.
“I want to thank Jeff Altier, Alicia Queally and the search committee for this incredible opportunity,” Gookins said. “As soon as I stepped on campus I felt very welcomed. It was the people that attracted me to Stetson. The faculty and staff are excited about the University, and the facilities are excellent. Stetson was very intriguing to me from the beginning.”
Several different thing attracted Gookins to Stetson and DeLand.
“Stetson has an incredible academics reputation and it’s exciting to know that we’ll be able to offer a great student-athlete experience,” he said. “The men’s soccer program has the potential to be successful. They’ve done it in the past and I am confident we can get there again.”
Gookins also had insight into all things Stetson soccer that other candidates probably didn’t have. Fellow Charlotte assistant coach Jason Osborne is a 2004 Stetson graduate. The two have worked side-by-side for five years and Gookins learned a lot about Hatter soccer from Osborne.
“It was instrumental to have Jason as a resource,” Gookins said. “He and I are really close. I definitely have learned a lot about Stetson and how much he loved going to school there. He’s told me about the community and alumni and how supportive they are of the soccer program. He was an important person in this process.”
Gookins also worked alongside some of the best Head Coaches in College Soccer.
“I had the pleasure of working with and learning from great head coaches,” he said. “I would like to sincerely thank Simon, Jeremy, and Kevin for the help and guidance through my coaching journey.”
The 49ers were 12-4-2 overall in 2016 and reached the NCAA Tournament first round, where they lost to Virginia Tech. With Gookins on staff, Charlotte advanced the NCAA Tournament in 2009, and 2011 through 2016.
Gookins is Stetson’s fourth coach in five years, and the Lancaster, Calif., native knows how important it is to provide the Hatters with some stability and leadership. And he plans on putting together an exciting on-field product in the process.
“The important thing for me is to be there for the guys and being around them and taking the time to get to know them and show them I care,” he said. “It’s important to create a vision for them where they can see themselves achieving great things and moving toward the same goal.
“We want to play fast and create a lot of scoring opportunities and make people want to come out and watch us play. I want to build a program where the guys are pushing the game forward and competing every single minute.”
Gookins began his collegiate coaching career at his alma mater, spending two years (2006-08) as an assistant coach with the Roadrunners before moving on to Charlotte.
Gookins has been active in developing youth-level players as well, having spent the 18 months as a staff coach of the Carolina Rapids and coaching U14, U16 and U18 USSDA teams. He also spent the last several years serving as a scout for the U.S. Youth National Teams.