NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin director of athletics Robert Hill announced Monday the hiring of Tony Amato as head coach of the Ladyjack soccer program. Amato's hiring fills the vacancy left when George Van Linder left the post last month to accept a position with Oklahoma.
Amato comes to SFA after a seven-year stint at Division II Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. In his time at Rollins, Amato led the Tars women's soccer team to uncharted territory, winning the program's first-ever Sunshine State Conference championship and building an 82-37-11 mark that stands as the best record in program history.
"Tony came highly recommended," Hill said. "When we had the chance to visit with him and see first-hand what he had accomplished and what he could do to move our program forward, we knew that he was our choice."
Under Amato, the Tars won SSC titles in each of the last two seasons. In 2008, the program's first league title campaign, Rollins went undefeated in the regular season. The 2009 squad posted a 16-2-2 mark, setting school records for wins, shutouts and goals-against average along the way. Amato guided Rollins to its first SSC tournament title in 2009, and the Tars reached the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Division II Championship for the second time in as many seasons.
Rollins has been ranked as high as sixth nationally during Amato's tenure, and he earned SSC Coach of the Year honors twice. He has coached four All-Americans, 31 all-conference selections, 18 All-South Region honorees, 11 All-SSC Tournament players, two league Players of the Year, two conference Defensive Players of the Year, one league Offensive Player of the Year and an SSC Tournament MVP.
In addition to his duties with the Rollins women's program, Amato has served as director of the CFU Soccer Club and as an Olympic Developmental Program coach with the Florida Youth Soccer Association since 2005. Amato has also taught multiple courses as an adjunct professor in the Rollins physical education department.
Prior to accepting the Rollins position, Amato spent the spring of 2003 as an assistant coach with the men's soccer team at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. He worked as an assistant with the Tars women's squad for two years after earning his undergraduate degree in behavioral biology from Rollins in 2000. Amato earned a master's in exercise physiology from Central Florida in 2002.
As a four-year player at Rollins, Amato earned numerous accolades and awards. He is a former SSC Player of the Year and is in the conference's hall of fame. Amato served as the Tars' team captain during his career and earned the squad's MVP honor as well as the Rollins Student-Athlete of the Year award. Amato also earned Academic All-America and SSC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors during his career.
"I think Tony will bring enthusiasm and an expectation of winning to our soccer program," Hill said. "I look forward to the coming season."
Amato is the seventh head coach in the 15-year history of the SFA soccer program. He replaces Van Linder after a two-year stay that saw the Ladyjacks post a combined record of 19-15-4. SFA was 12-4-2 in Southland Conference play over that stretch, finishing tied for second in 2008 and third in the league in 2009.