Steve Springthorpe recently completed his fourth season as Tennessee Tech head coach in 2017, tying a ribbon on another historical campaign of Golden Eagle soccer during a current three-year stretch as good as any in school history. On the field, the program has enjoyed record-setting success and a rapid turnaround under Springthorpe’s watch, while also setting a new standard when it comes to prosperity in the classroom for TTU soccer.
Springthorpe came to Tech after stints as head coach at North Carolina State and Fresno State, as well as stops as an assistant coach at Duke University and the University of Florida.
After accumulating a total of five wins in two seasons from 2013-14, the Golden Eagles quickly turned the tide with 28 victories over the last three years, the most in three-straight seasons for the program since the early 2000s. Tech’s 18 Ohio Valley Conference wins in the past three seasons are also the most in a three-year window in program history, shattering the old record of 11 from 1998-2000.
The slew of wins is only the tip of the iceberg for TTU soccer, as the Golden Eagles have established themselves as one of the top tier teams in the conference in regards to regular season standings and postseason achievement. With a second-place regular season finish in 2017, Tech joins Murray State as the only two teams in the OVC to finish in the top three in the standings in each of the last three years, while TTU’s three-straight years in the top three is the first occurrence in program history since a span of four-consecutive years from 1998-2001.
The Golden Eagles have also made it deep into the postseason picture throughout Springthorpe’s tenure, joining Murray State as the only two teams in the league to make it all the way to the OVC Tournament semifinals in each of the last three years. The three-straight appearances mark only the second time in program history and first since a run of five-consecutive spots in the OVC Tournament semifinals from 1999-2003.
Springthorpe’s squads have defended at a high level, breaking program record after program record, while also proving to be on the best in the OVC the past three years. The 2017 squad yielded only eight goals, just five of which came in regulation, to surpass last year’s school-record of 13 goals allowed. Tech finished in a tie for first in the OVC with 10 shutouts, showing a knack for blanking the opposition with a program-record five-straight shutouts to end the regular season. The Golden Eagles went through a period in 2017 in which they didn’t surrender a goal in 685 minutes, far and away a school record.
The 2017 club, which set a school record with only five defeats all year, also established a new program low in goals against average with a 0.45 mark, a mere percentage point back of the OVC all-time record of 0.44. The Golden Eagles had only one match in 2017 in which they yielded more than one goal, and dating back to 2016, Tech has gone 31 of its last 32 matches allowing one goal or less.
For the team’s lights-out defensive showing under Springthorpe, junior goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann took home the Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year honor, becoming the first player in league history to win three-straight OVC Defensive Player of the Year awards. Naerdemann set school records with a 0.45 goals against average and a .896 save percentage.
The Herne, Germany native wrapped up her junior campaign in 2017 tied for the Tech all-time career record with 28 wins, as well as tied for the conference’s career record with 28 shutouts after registering 10 throughout the year.
Naerdemann’s accolade highlighted a wealth of All-Conference honors for the 2017 club, including Naredemann and Lauren Brewer as All-OVC first teamers. Naerdemann’s spot on the first team marked the second ever Golden Eagle with three appearances on the All-Conference first team, joining Kelli McCoy who won the honor three-consecutive years from 1998-2000. Brewer’s recognition marked the second-straight year in which the Crestwood, Ky. took home All-OVC first team honors.
Karigan Owens and Mayra Tarraga Manzanal stamped their tickets on the All-OVC second team, the third-straight year on the second team for Owens, while junior Tina Marolt and freshman Kendall Powell secured spots on the conference’s All-Newcomer team. Owens ended her Golden Eagle career in third place on the all-time career list with 17 assists during her TTU tenure.
In total, 15 Golden Eagles have been recognized with All-Conference postseason hardware in the last three years under Springthorpe’s watch, among the most in the OVC. Abi Gearing, one of the most productive players in school history ranking inside the Top 10 in career points, goals and shots on-goal, took home All-OVC first team honors in consecutive years from 2015-16.
The 2016 Tech squad captured 11 victories, the first time a TTU club eclipsed double digits in the win department since 2002. Tech’s six defeats tied a school record for fewest losses in a season at the time, before the 2017 team surpassed it with only five defeats. 2016 set a school record with 11 shutouts and also led the OVC with a 0.59 goals against average. On the offensive side of the equation, Tech’s 25 goals ranked fifth in the OVC, the most scored by a Golden Eagle team since 2009.
The Golden Eagles were also recognized in the area of sportsmanship, earning the 2016 NSCAA College Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award, one of just three NCAA DI teams in the country to earn the prestigious honor.
The 2015 team that set the groundwork for Tech’s brisk rise towards the top had the OVC’s stingiest defense. TTU topped the conference in goals allowed (17) and goals against average (0.83), while the team’s seven shutouts were the highest in nearly 15 years, and in OVC action, the Golden Eagles set the gold standard in goals allowed with seven in 10 matches and goals against average (0.68). Tech also showcased more of a knack for scoring, doubling its goal total from 2014 and frequenting the back of the net most often for a TTU team since 2011.
Tech’s 6-3-1 conference record led them to a second place finish in the OVC, the highest in 15 years. The stellar mark also pushed the Golden Eagles to a first-round bye in the OVC Tournament, putting the squad all the way into the semifinals, the furthest tournament finish since 2009 for a TTU team. For his efforts, Springthorpe was presented with the Coach of the Year honor at the first ever Golden Wings Awards.
The 2015 club proved early on that things would be different, showcasing one of its most impressive wins in program history in front of a record-setting crowd of 961 in only the second ever night match at Tech Soccer Field on Aug. 30. Having never won a match against a school from the vaunted Southeastern Conference, not even as much as a tie with an 0-11 mark against the SEC, the Golden Eagles took down the University of Alabama, 2-1, for TTU’s first win of the year.
Since Springthorpe has been at the helm of Tech soccer, taking over the program in December, 2013, the Golden Eagles have displayed tremendous success in the classroom, making their presence known within the department as well as on the national stage. The soccer program is the only team at Tennessee Tech to win the large team Academic Team of the Year accolade at the Golden Wings Awards, determined by the highest percentage of the roster to be included on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll, winning the honor in each of the last two years.
In all three years as head coach at Tech, Springthorpe’s teams have taken home the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Academic Award, behind record-setting success in the classroom. In the fall of 2016, the team had the highest GPA in the history of the program with a cumulative mark of 3.672, before eclipsing that number with a 3.705 cumulative GPA in the spring of 2017. In his first season at Tech, the team finished with 3.427 cumulative GPA, the highest mark among all TTU teams.
Springthopre has carried over a tradition of strong academic prowess for Tech soccer, continuing a trend for the program that has now seen the team with above a 3.0 cumulative GPA for 27 consecutive semesters.
Since he has taken the reins of Golden Eagle soccer, players have been selected to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll 145 times and have been named to the OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll 27 times. The program will add to that number shortly with the 2016-17 selections right around the corner. The team has also had six OVC Medal of Honor recipients during Springthorpe’s tenure, with Allison Barlow, McKenzie McCloud and Mackenzie Miller hoisting the accolade for the 2014-15 year, and Miller, Molly Kafader and Abi Gearing taking down the honor for the 2015-16 year. The 2016-17 winners will be announced shortly.
The program’s recent blend of on-field success and academic and community achievements under Springthorpe has been showcased on full display with a whole host of individual honors. Among the highlights, Taylor Blazie Bosheers was named the 2016 TTU Woman of the Year, and Abi Gearing took home the prestigious OVC Scholar Athlete of the Year Award in 2016-17, the highest individual honor that can be earned by an OVC student-athlete, given annually to only three men and three women student-athletes for their accomplishments in both the classroom and athletic arena, and because of their leadership qualities.
Springthorpe has been part of coaching teams to championships in the Southeastern (SEC), Western Athletic (WAC), and USA South conference.
Prior to his arrival at Tech, he wrapped up his first season with the Duke women’s soccer program during the 2013 campaign, after spending the previous four seasons as head coach at N.C. State. At Duke, Springthorpe was in charge of the goalkeepers while working with the defenders and helping with video breakdown.
Prior to a four-year run as head coach at North Carolina State, Springthorpe was head coach for four years at Fresno State. He also served five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Florida, and nine as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Methodist University.
In Springthorpe’s tenure at N.C. State, the Wolfpack witnessed a great turnaround. When Springthorpe was hired in 2009, the Wolfpack had not won a game in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play for two seasons and had not had a 10-win season since 2002. Springthorpe quickly helped turn around the program, highlighted by a 2011 season in which the Wolfpack posted a 10-8-2 record after recording a final RPI of 41.
Before his stint at N.C. State, Springthorpe served as head coach at Fresno State from 2004-08, compiling a 52-40-12 overall record, the highest winning percentage in program history, and leading the Bulldogs to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championship game four-straight years, winning twice. Under Springthorpe, the Bulldogs made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament (2005, 2008).
Prior to leading Fresno State, Springthorpe spent five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Florida, working primarily with goalkeepers. While at Florida, Springthorpe helped the Gators to an impressive 87-28-5 mark, including three Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular season titles and three SEC Tournament championships.
Springthorpe began his coaching career at his alma mater, Methodist University, in 1987. In his nine seasons as an assistant coach at Methodist, the Lady Monarchs advanced to the NCAA Division III semifinals three times and the NCAA Division III championship match in 1995.
A 1987 graduate of Methodist with a degree in sociology, Springthorpe was a two-time All-South Region and three-time All-Conference selection.
Steve has four children -- Tyler, Lizzy, Westley and Jackson.