Potteiger Named Lee's Soccer Coach
Derek Potteiger, a two-time All-American at Penn State University and former first assistant at the United States Naval Academy (2009-13), has been named Lee University’s men’s soccer coach.
Lee athletic director Larry Carpenter announced that Potteiger would become the new head coach at Lee, an institution of over five thousand students in Cleveland, Tennessee, on Thursday morning while attending the 2017 NCAA Convention in Nashville.
At Penn State, Potteiger was selected All-Big 10 four times and captained the soccer team for three seasons, finishing with a 3.5 GPA.
“We are excited to have coach Potteiger join our coaching staff and to lead the men’s soccer program,” said Carpenter. “He is an outstanding coach with experience at both the NCAA DI and DIII levels. He has transformed the soccer program at Gordon College, which is a small DIII school in the Boston area, and he should thrive at a larger DII institution like Lee which offers such excellent resources and athletic reputation.
“Derek brings an exciting up-tempo style of play which we feel will generate enthusiasm across campus and throughout the community. His teams are known for their intensity and explosiveness and his players love playing for him.
“Men's soccer in the Gulf South Conference (GSC) and NCAA South Region is extremely competitive. We believe Coach Potteiger is the person to lead us forward.”
Potteiger, who played professionally in the USL for several years, served as head coach at NCAA Division III Gordon (Wenham, Massachusetts) for the past four years where his teams posted an impressive 61-18-3 record. He took a Gordon team that won only six games prior to his arrival in 2012 to 19 wins in 2013 and was named conference coach of the year. He directed the Gordon squad to its first two NCAA tournament wins.
“Derek is one of the brightest young soccer coaches in the nation,” said Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn. “He has shown what he can do as a head coach at a small DIII school, and I believe he will be immediately successful at the DII level, and in the Gulf South Conference.”
Potteiger and his family will be welcomed and introduced to the Lee community at a session with the press and public on Monday, January 23, at 11:00 a.m. The event is set for the Deacon Jones Dining Hall on campus.
“We're looking forward to welcoming Derek, his wife Jennifer, and his four lovely daughters (Alexis, Rylee, Abbigail and Reese) to the Lee University family," Conn added.
Potteiger expressed his excitement about his new opportunity: “If you are in the world of Christian higher education, you know Lee University and its reputation, and you know the quality of the athletic programs Lee has developed. They have already made a successful move to DII, and what I see there is exciting,” he explained. “I loved my time at Gordon in DIII, but my roots were in D1, so I was really looking forward to an opportunity to jump up to the next level.”
Potteiger worked under the legendary coach Dave Brandt at a Naval Academy program that was a bottom 10 program in 2008 and rose to a Top 25 program by 2013, pointed straight to leadership when asked why he considered the Lee position.
“I think you can tell a lot about anything through the leadership,” he said. “To have been able to meet Dr. Conn and Coach Carpenter and talk with some of the other coaches on campus about the overall athletic vision, it speaks tons about the school, the quality of the athletic programs and the directions that it is heading.”
The new coach also did his homework, taking time to check out the talent level for next fall. “Yes absolutely, I have looked at the roster,” he acknowledged. “I tried to digest as much information as I could. I think there is a good core group of guys returning. Everybody I have talked to in different realms believes the men’s team is poised to be good maybe even beyond next year.
“I took over a Gordon program that had 10 healthy field players and went into the next fall knowing that I only had 12 field players. Knowing I’m already four or five steps ahead of that at Lee really gets me excited.”
Having coached at two different levels of NCAA soccer, Potteiger explained what he sees as the biggest transition from DIII to DII soccer. “I think anytime you go up a level, everything’s going to be faster; faster movement, faster thought and faster speed of play. The increase in speed actually is another reason I’m enticed to come to DII.
“My vision for playing is fast,” he added. “Tempo and fast pace are words that are going to resound through our program at Lee. To have players who can do everything faster is really important for me. I think at DII you are competing with the D1s and you can find players that are tactically sound, technically capable, have the right soccer IQ situationally, and then are athletically capable. Those are the four prongs for me.”
“I want to express my appreciation to the search committee for a thorough, national search,” said Dr. Conn. “There were over 180 applicants for the position.”
Coach Carpenter chaired the committee that was broken down into three segments: the university at large, the athletic department, and the soccer alumni community.
The university at large consisted of Cole Strong, Assistant Vice President of Operations; Phil Cook, Vice President of Enrollment: and Josh York, Director of Facilities Management. The athletic department was represented by head baseball coach Mark Brew; Director of Internal Affairs Jessica McIntyre; and Director of Sports Information George Starr. The alumni community members were former Flame soccer players Brian Conn, who is the Lee Director of Public Relations and John Brose, head men's soccer coach at Cleveland High School.