PETE Master’s grad lands head coaching position

Dan Stafford photo

Dan Stratford (Physical Education Teacher Education MS 2015; Physical Education Teacher Education BSPE 2009) has been selected as the new head coach of the University of Charleston (W.Va.) Golden Eagle men's soccer team. Athletic Director Dr. Bren Stevens introduced former assistant Stratford following an abbreviated search to replace Chris Grassie, who recently left Charleston for Marshall University.
 
"I have been impressed with Coach Stratford's abilities since we first hired him back in 2014 and in my mind he is the perfect coach to lead this program. Dan possesses superior knowledge as it relates to the myriad of techniques and tactics involved with the game of soccer. Coach Stratford is articulate, bright and will add synergy to the Department of Athletics,” said Stevens in her introduction of Stratford to the Golden Eagle men's soccer team.

Stevens highlighted Stratford’s commitment to ensure a “positive” student-athlete experience for all team members along with a strong focus on player success on the field and in the classroom. Stratford credits his time at WVU and CPASS as helping to strengthen his effectiveness as a coach. 

“I think the most beneficial component of the CPASS bachelor’s degree is the practical teaching placements. You are forced to learn very quickly about managing your time throughout a session, task adaptation and modification for a wide spectrum of learners and to find your identity as it pertains to teaching style. These were all transferrable skills when it came to coaching,” Stratford explained. 

“The curricular models that are taught within CPASS, along with the excellent support and guidance of the professors, have definitely aided in my effectiveness as a coach today,” he added.

Stratford says he was focused initially with a single purpose of pursuing a professional playing career. “When it came to turning professional in soccer, I think I felt less pressure as I knew I had another profession that I felt very competent at when leaving WVU. It was very beneficial when transferring to coaching due to my ability to manage my working environment and plan sessions appropriately,” Stratford said.

Stratford is a native of London and is beginning his first season as a head coach. Stratford has served as the UC assistant coach over the past three years during their most successful period in the history of the program, reaching the NCAA National Finals in 2014 and 2016, as well as a run to the Final Four in 2015. Stratford has helped the program to three consecutive Mountain East Conference regular season and tournament conference titles. His combined current record is 61-7-3 as an assistant coach. Prior to coaching at UC, Stratford spent three years at WVU, serving as the assistant coach from 2011-2014.  

Stratford is one of WVU's most decorated players, appearing frequently in the record books, most notably as the career leader in games played and assists. Stratford was recognized as an All-Big East and All-Region selection during his senior year.
 
Following his collegiate career, Stratford was drafted by DC United in 2008 and later played for Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2009. Stratford finished his playing career at Hereford United of the English League Two in 2010. Following his contract, Stratford returned to Morgantown to begin his master's in Physical Education Teacher Education and assist with the men's soccer program.
 
Stratford obtained his UEFA B coaching license in January of 2017 and completed his master's in the summer of 2015. He attributes much of his coaching influence to his father, Michael Stratford.  

What advice does Stratford have for aspiring coaches? “Expect to be more than just a stereotypical coach. Coaching might be 25 percent of the job. You are an administrator, academic advisor, counsellor, manager, secretary, judge and jury. While these other aspects might not be what you think you’re signing up for, they are a necessary part of the job and pivotal to the success of your program.

“Efficient management of time and delegation of tasks is imperative. The details within planning are extremely important; be sure to have a clear philosophy and understanding of your playing style and value your training time to reinforce this,” Stratford explained.

Stratford credits CPASS faculty Drs. Valerie Wayda and Sean Bulger for their continued support throughout his undergraduate and graduate degrees. “It’s always nice to make it back to Morgantown and catch up with them. It’s certainly a big positive of the program to feel that their guidance and support doesn’t end once you leave with your degree. They are always pleased to hear of your continued professional development,” Stratford added.  g his contract, Stratford returned to West Virginia University to begin his master's in Physical Education Teacher Education and assist with the men's soccer program.
 


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