New men’s, women’s soccer coaches named
AFTER NEARLY TWO DECADES, there are new men’s and women’s soccer coaches on the sidelines. Matt Kern and Michelle Demko were tapped earlier this year to replace longtime men’s and women’s head coaches Steve and Michele Cornish. The Cornishes stepped down in May to take coaching and teaching positions at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Academy in Faribault, Minn.
Both Kern and Demko have equally strong passions for coaching and fostering the growth of student-athletes.
Kern launched his coaching career soon after his graduation from Hartwick College, where he was a starter for teams that made it to the NCAA Final Four two times. Since then, he has led successful teams at Wofford College and the University of The South (Sewanee), where he was twice named Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Coach Kern’s priorities are a great fit for UNC Asheville. “Degrees, first and foremost, then helping the players enjoy the athletic experience and develop into great people.”
Demko, also a former college athlete, was a star soccer player at the University of Maryland and was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 50th Anniversary Women’s Soccer Team. She didn’t stop playing after college. Demko worked her way up the professional ranks, starting on a championship team in Germany and playing two seasons for the Philadelphia Charge. She then coached four seasons at NC State and served as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska.
“It’s about the players,” says Demko. “I want them to experience the success and feel a positive result from all the hard work.”
✮ BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:
Senior Natalie Pearson was named the Big South Conference Women’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year in June by the league’s head coaches. She earned the title by being UNC Asheville’s first-ever national qualifier. After a wildly successful season, Pearson punched her ticket to the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 200-meter event. She finished seventh in her heat and 18th overall at the national meet.
✮ BIG SOUTH HALL OF FAME:
UNC Asheville Hall of Famer Josh Pittman ’98 was also one of six people who was inducted into the Big South Hall of Fame in June. The former Bulldog basketball standout is now playing for Halcones UV Cordóba in Mexico.