Josh Phelps dribbles the ball last season against Lander. Phelps has taken a mentorship role during the coaching change (Photo by Stefanie Smith)
The UNCP men’s soccer team came back from winter break expecting to get acquainted with their offseason workout schedules, but instead they were greeted with some startling news.
Head coach Phil Hindson announced that he would be leaving the team to take an assistant coaching job with the men’s soccer team at Winthrop University.
Assistant coach Sean Brennan followed Hindson’s departure by taking over as head for the men’s team at Mount Olive.
Although the transition was surprising to those unfamiliar with the situation, the two coaches are all too familiar with their new destinations.
Hindson joined Winthrop’s coaching staff in 2000 as an assistant coach under Rich Popisanko.
The Eagles experienced tremendous success during Hindson’s tenure, winning the Big South Championship for the first time and setting a new school record for wins.
Daniel Ridenhour, who is good friends with Hindson, took over as head coach of Winthrop in December of 2015.
When he reached out and asked Hindson to help him build the program, Hindson couldn’t refuse.
“It’s just an ideal situation, and I can’t fault him at all for taking that opportunity when it came up,” said UNCP Athletics Director Dick Christy.
Brennan is no stranger to Mt. Olive, where he previously spent three seasons from 2008 to 2010 as an assistant and goalkeeper coach.
During Brennan’s time with the team, Mount Olive held a 9-7-3 record.
“He gets to get his feet wet and get started in the Southeast. It works out well for him and Lauren, his wife,” said Christy.
Despite the impact a coaching change can have on a program, Christy remains hopeful for the future.
“Over the long haul it’s not a bad thing because as we recruit the new head coach, they now have a chance to select their staff and put their system and place.”
The student-athletes on the team have been weathering the changes throughout the semester.
They are continuing their routine spring workouts under the supervision of interim head coach Joey Hannant, who serves as their strength and conditioning coach.
Josh Phelps, who recently finished his career as a player for UNCP, has taken also taken a leadership role as a mentor to the team.
As far as the search for a new coach goes, the future of UNCP soccer is looking bright.
“We had a great group of finalists, I was really pleased with that,” said Christy. “We have extended an offer, and my hope is, if I get the information I need, within the next few days we’ll be able to publicly release everything.”
The tasks that remain in the installment of the new coach include a background check and transcript evaluation, which are important steps because all UNCP coaches teach classes at the university as well.
The new coach will be the eighth skipper in the 51-year history of the program.
The Braves are slated to begin Spring play on March 19 when they take on Catawba in a road contest.