ATLANTA—Derek Leader, formerly the associate head coach at SMU, has been named the head coach of the Georgia State women’s soccer program, announced Director of Athletics Cheryl L. Levick.
Leader, who was elevated to associate head coach before the 2010 season, spent a total of four seasons at SMU, helping head coach Brent Erwin build a winning program. The Mustangs qualified for the Conference USA Tournament in each of his four seasons and improved to double-digit win totals the last two years.
He is also a highly successful coach with the Olympic Development Program, serving as the under-16 head coach for Region III since 1997. In addition, he served as a staff coach with the Dallas Texans soccer club, the No. 1 ranked soccer club in the nation, and as the head coach for the North Texas state teams, and he was a national staff instructor for coaching courses for the United States Soccer Federation.
Before his stint at SMU, Leader spent 12 years (1996-2008) as women’s soccer head coach and assistant director of the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He was inducted into the IMG Soccer Academy Hall of Fame as a coach and builder in 2010. During his time in Bradenton, he also coached local semi-pro teams, serving as an assistant coach for the Bradenton Academics PDL men’s team from 2001-04 and as head coach for the Bradenton Athletics W-League women’s team from 2004-08.
“Derek is the perfect fit to lead our women’s soccer program, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Georgia State family,” said Levick. “He is a strong recruiter, and he is extremely well-respected in the soccer community for his ability to teach the game and develop talent. He has all the skills to build a top-level program at Georgia State.”
Leader began his coaching career in Ohio, where he was the assistant coach for the men’s and women’s programs at Ashland University in 1995-96. He also served as head coach for the Ohio-North ODP team, as a clinician with the state staff in Ohio and as head coach with the Emerald Soccer Club in Cleveland.
A 1995 graduate of Akron University, Leader is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and the United States Soccer Coaches Organization, and holds several coaching licenses, including a United States Soccer Federation National “A” License, an NSCAA Premier License and an International Coaching Diploma from the Victoria Coaching Institute in British Columbia, Canada.
“It’s a dream come true for me to earn a head coaching position for an outstanding program like Georgia State University, and I’d like to thank Cheryl Levick and [Senior Associate AD] Jamie Boggs for this opportunity,” said Leader.
“My teachings encompass the most modern methods in strength, agility, and mental training along with the technical and tactical aspects necessary to develop female soccer players,” he continued. “I have extensive recruiting ties in the South and the Atlanta area, and I am ready for this new challenge. The program here has so much potential, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Leader is a native of Stow, Ohio, and his wife, Kim, hails from Millen, Ga. The couple has a daughter, Jacqueline.