Ladyjack coach steps down to pursue other opportunities

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin soccer coach George Van Linder announced Wednesday his resignation from SFA to accept a position with the Oklahoma soccer program. Van Linder, who leaves the Ladyjack program after two seasons, will serve as the Sooners' associate head coach.
Van Linder will share the head coaching duties with Nicole Nelson, a former assistant under Van Linder at Baylor. She has been the Sooners' head coach since 2007. Prior to her stop at Baylor, Nelson was an assistant and then the head coach at SFA.
"This came as a bit of a surprise," Van Linder said Wednesday. "SFA has been wonderful, and we have a fantastic team coming in for the next two years. Everyone in Nacogdoches, on the SFA campus, and especially in the athletic department, has been fantastic. My family and I will certainly look back on our time here with a lot of great memories."
In two seasons under Van Linder, the Ladyjacks went 19-15-4, including a 10-8-2 record in 2009. SFA had a combined record of 12-4-2 in Southland Conference play over the last two seasons, finishing among the league's top three in each campaign. The Ladyjacks tied for second in 2008 and finished third in 2009.
Last week, SFA announced a 12-player signing class that included eight prep recruits and four collegiate transfers.
"We were going into the fall with a lot of confidence," Van Linder said. "The program has a lot of high expectations for the future, and I know with the leaders that we have on this team that they will get there. I look forward to following their success."
Van Linder's 19 wins stand fourth among SFA coaches, while his .552 winning percentage ranks third. Nelson still ranks second at SFA in wins (33) and winning percentage (.615). She led the Ladyjacks to a Southland Conference championship in 2004 and the program's first NCAA Tournament berth in 2003.
"While I am sorry to see him leave, we wish Coach Van Linder only the best in his new position at Oklahoma," SFA director of athletics Robert Hill said. "He leaves our program in very good shape, and this team should contend for the Southland Conference title next fall."
Current assistants Kelli Partridge and Trae Manny will handle the day-to-day offseason operations for the team, while a search for Van Linder's replacement is conducted.
"We will immediately begin a search for the best coach who can take this program and move it forward," Hill said.