SPORTS

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May 23, 2006

Brown assistant to replace O’Connor

While the athletic department is still seeing to fill three vacancies, the men’s soccer team can now rest easy. In less than six weeks, their new era will begin under the command of an Ivy Leaguer.

Bringing to an end a three-month long, nationwide search, athletic director Tom Weingartner announced Monday afternoon that Brown University assistant men’s soccer coach Scott Wiercinski will take the reigns of Chicago’s program effective July 1. The 1999 Middlebury grad accepted the job late last week. The squad had been without a steady hand at the helm since former head coach John O’Connor resigned to accept a similar position with the University of Rhode Island Rams March 3.

It will be the first head coaching position for Wiercinski, who is on the upward arc of his career. During his five-year stint in Providence, the Bears went 41–31–13, earning three league titles and two trips to the postseason. He joined Brown after a one-year stint as an assistant at Bowdoin during the Polar Bears’ program-best 14–2–2 campaign in 2000.

Even before his stay in Maine, Wiercinski had deep Division III roots. He was a four-year varsity player at Middlebury from ’95–’98, winning two All–New England Small College Athletic Conference selections as a goalie. The Panthers went 48–10–3 during his career and made the NCAAs all four years with him between the pipes.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work with the kids,” Wiercinski said. “We become coaches because we love the process of teaching and learning, and I’m looking forward to getting through that process with a new group of guys and getting to know them on and off the field. Hopefully, we’ll have a good season to celebrate together.”

According to the official press release, Wiercinski’s experiences with an academics-first Division I athletics program and with an elite Division III soccer squad was a key factor in his selection for the post, which brought an end to a nationwide search that was soon to enter its fourth month.

“He has been affiliated with excellent soccer programs, understands how to recruit quality student-athletes, and is committed to the Division III model of excellence in both the classroom and on the playing field,” Weingartner said.

O’Connor left behind some big shoes for Wiercinski to fill, going 113–74–17 over 11 seasons, earning three NCAA tournament berths and winning one UAA title during that period. He was also one of the most popular coaches in the department and served as head of the Order of the C, the men’s varsity club. Fortunately, his successor sounds ready and eager for the challenge.

“John’s done a fantastic job. This team has been competitive at a high level within the region and across the country,” Wiercinski said. “There will be a transition process, but we hope to continue that and compete at a national level every game and every year.”

While arrangements are still being made, the new coach hopes to visit Hyde Park before the end of the academic year to meet with the team. Wiercinski will also aim to be in contact with current assistant coaches Avi Stopper and Ben Reeves over the coming weeks. It is as of yet undetermined whether the pair will be retained for next year.

The search committees in charge of filling the men’s and women’s swimming head coaching position and selecting assistant coaches for the tennis and track programs are still in operation. While there is no set timeline for making their selections, Weingartner had previously stated that the department aimed to pick a swimming coach by the end of the academic year.

See Friday’s Maroon for full coverage of Wiercinski’s hiring.