Steve Springthorpe is in his fourth season as Tennessee Tech head coach in 2017, guiding the Golden Eagle program to a rapid turnaround en route to a two-year run as good as any in school history, while also setting a new standard when it comes to success in the classroom for TTU soccer. He comes 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 19 victories over the last two years, the most in back-to-back seasons since 2002-03. Tech’s 12 Ohio Valley Conference wins in the past two seasons are also the most in a two-year window in program history, setting a single-season mark with six nods in 2015, before duplicating the school record again in 2016.
The slew of wins is only the tip of the iceberg for TTU soccer, as the Golden Eagles have found themselves right back in the thick of things in the conference playoff picture. With a second-place OVC regular season finish in 2015, and a third-place ending in 2016, the Golden Eagles secured a spot in the OVC Tournament in back-to-back years for the first time since 2008-09. A bye in the conference tourney in 2015, and a 3-0 win over Belmont in last year’s first round, put Tech in the semifinals of the OVC Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the conference tournament expanded to six teams in 2003. Furthermore, TTU’s consecutive top three regular season finishes marks the first time a Golden Eagle team has finished in the top three in back-to-back years since 2000-01.
Springthorpe’s squads have defended at a high level, proving to be one of the best in the OVC the past two years. The 2016 club set a program record for fewest goals allowed with just 13 surrendered in 21 matches, highlighted by a school record 11 shutouts, which led the conference. The Golden Eagles also sat atop the OVC with only 0.62 goals allowed per match and goals against average with a 0.59 mark. 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.
Overall the team captured 11 victories, the first time a Tech squad eclipsed double digits in the win department since 2002, while TTU’s six defeats tied a school record for fewest losses in a season. 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.
For the team’s robust defensive efforts, sophomore goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann took home the OVC Defensive Player of the Year honor, earning the accolade for the second-consecutive season after hoisting the elite award as a freshman in 2015. Naerdemann became the first Golden Eagle to seize the honor in back-to-back seasons since Kelli McCoy accomplished the feat in 1999 and 2000. The Herne, Germany native was recognized within the TTU Athletics Department, claiming the Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year Award for the 2016-17 year.
Naerdemann’s honor was one of many Golden Eagles to take home postseason hardware under Springthorpe, joining Abi Gearing and Lauren Brewer on the All-OVC first team last year, while Karigan Owens took home All-OVC second team honors, and freshman Nora Vicsek earned All-Newcomer team recognition.
Like Naerdemann, Gearing was also named on the All-OVC first team in 2015, making the duo the first Golden Eagles to earn first team honors in back-to-back seasons since TTU hall of famer Jill Burns in 2002-03. 2015 also featured a Karigan Owens All-OVC second team selection.
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 (24), Lizzy (22), Westley (19) and Jackson (16).