Watkins Named Head Coach of Women's Soccer
Dec. 12, 2016
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Gonzaga University director of athletics Mike Roth named Chris Watkins the head coach of the women's soccer program the school announced Monday.
Watkins was a member of the BYU coaching staff since 1996. In 2013, he was promoted to associate head coach and helped guide the Cougars to a Top-5 national ranking last season, before ending the year in the Sweet 16. Since being promoted to associate head coach, BYU has amassed a record of 47-11-6. The Cougars have appeared in five straight NCAA Tournaments and won five consecutive West Coast Conference titles.
"We are excited to welcome Chris Watkins as our women's soccer coach," Roth said. "He has a solid background in collegiate soccer and has mentored numerous student-athletes during his coaching tenure. I look forward to having him lead our women's soccer program into the future."
As a BYU assistant coach, Watkins helped the Cougars to 17 trips to the NCAA Tournament, earning a No. 1 seed in 2012 -- the program's highest seed ever. BYU finished 2003 and 2012 ranked fifth in the country. The Cougars were No. 9 in the final NSCAA Coaches' Poll last season. Watkins was hired as an assistant at BYU in 1996.
"Chris Watkins is an excellent fit for Gonzaga," Senior Associate Director of Athletics Shannon Strahl said. "He has experience and acumen to build our program into one that contends for conference championships and postseason play."
During his time with the BYU women, the Cougars have won 13 conference championships, made the NCAA Tournament 18 times, including two appearances in the Elite Eight and five in the Sweet 16. BYU has finished in the national Top 25 17 times and boasts a 343-90-36 record since 1996. The Cougars have had 21 NSCAA All-Americans and seven Academic All-Americans while Watkins was a member of the staff.
"My family and I are so excited for the opportunity to Coach at Gonzaga," Watkins said. "I'm grateful for Mike Roth, Chris Standiford and Shannon Strahl for their belief and trust in me. It's the great people I've met who have drawn me to Spokane."
Watkins was also the head coach for the BYU men's soccer team from 1995 to 2015, compiling an overall record of 304-103-75 over the 21-year span. The men's soccer team dominated the Collegiate Club Soccer Championships, winning National Championships in 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001, including an unprecedented run of 30 straight victories at the Club National Championships.
Seeking a more competitive environment, Watkins was the driving force behind BYU's decision to move from collegiate club to semi-pro status in 2003. BYU purchased a Premier Development League franchise, becoming the first university sponsored soccer program to ever acquire a franchise that competes at a level considered higher than NCAA soccer. The team competed in the USL Premier Development League where it reached the Final Eight twice. Under Watkins, the Cougars are the only university to participate in the U.S. Open Cup which they have done three times.
Watkins played for the semi-professional Salt Lake City Flamengo team from 1992 to 1995. He also played for the Utah Blitzz in 2002, and scored the golden goal to win the Western Conference title.
During college, Watkins played at Drake University and held the single-season scoring record. He later received a degree from BYU in psychology. In high school, he was the Gatorade Player of the Year in his home state of Kansas.
"I look forward to gaining the trust and commitment of our student-athletes as we build our culture," Watkins said.
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