Jason O’Keefe enters his third year at the helm of the Appalachian State University men’s soccer program.
During his first year leading the Mountaineers, O’Keefe led the Mountaineers at one point to six-straight unbeaten in a tough stretch of matches that included draws with No. 8 Charlotte and No. 23 Hartwick on the road. During the 2016 season, O’Keefe coached two-time, first team all-Sun Belt Stephen Chapman who, along with eight goals on the season, was named CoSIDA Academic All-America and NSCAA All-Region. The team was also honored with the NSCAA Academic Award for their efforts in the classroom.
During the 2017 campaign, the Mountaineers played well with a daunting schedule that featured seven eventual NCAA opponents with three wins coming against those foes. Appalachian's RPI also increased by 39 points from 160 to 121 in his second year. Thanks to the formidable slate last season, the Apps' strength of schedule jumped up all the way to 67th in the country after a ranking of 166 in his first year.
The defense was one of the best in the Sun Belt in 2017, as the six shutouts doubled the amount of shutouts in 2016 and was tied for second in the conference. Appalachian's save percentage of .765 was the second highest in the league with the 1.21 goals allowed per game also being the second best in the conference. The Mountaineers' 1.12 goals against averaged proved to be the second lowest as well. Under O'Keefe and the staff, Jake Chasteen finished second in goals against averaged at 1.083 and second with four blank sheets.
His first recruiting class made some noise with Juan Hernandez posting a team-high two goals, while seven of the Mountaineers that scored a goal were freshmen. In addition, first-year Mountaineer Reed Hunnicutt led the team and was fifth in the league with three assists. Hernandez' two goals against Central Arkansas was tied for the second most in a match in the league, which led to a Sun Belt Player of the Week honor. Off the field, the team was recognized the NSCAA Academic Award for a second-straight season under O'Keefe and 10th overall.
A 17-year veteran, O’Keefe’s coaching experience includes stints with some of the nation’s most successful men’s soccer programs, including North Carolina, Saint Louis and Wake Forest.
O’Keefe spent the past two seasons (2014-15) at North Carolina, where he helped the Tar Heels to a pair of top-10 finishes (No. 5 and No. 9 in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America polls in 2014 and 2015, respectively). UNC earned NCAA Tournament berths both seasons that O’Keefe was on the Heels’ coaching staff and fell just one win short of advancing to the 2014 College Cup, falling to No. 2 seed UCLA on penalty kicks in the national quarterfinals.
As North Carolina’s recruiting coordinator, O’Keefe helped the Tar Heels land back-to-back top-10 signing classes, including what is currently ranked as the nation’s No. 1 class for 2016, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Prior to his two seasons at UNC, O’Keefe was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Saint Louis for four seasons (2010-13). With O’Keefe on staff, SLU won two Atlantic 10 Conference championships (2012 tournament, 2013 regular season), earned a No. 8 seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and were ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Region in both 2012 and 2013.
For his efforts at Saint Louis, O’Keefe was named the NSCAA’s Mid-Atlantic Assistant Coach of the Year in 2012 and, in 2013, he was tabbed as one of the nation’s top 15 assistant coaches by CollegeSoccerNews.com.
O’Keefe’s successful time at SLU was preceded by three seasons (2007-09) at Elon, where he coached in the same conference (Southern) as Appalachian State. He was an assistant coach for his first two seasons at Elon before being promoted to associate head coach for his final campaign with the Phoenix. His promotion to associate head coach came after he helped lead Elon to the first regular-season SoCon championship in school history in 2008.
During his three years at Elon, O’Keefe recruited and/or coached four SoCon Players of the Year, including 2009 SoCon Freshman of the Year and 2010 and 2012 SoCon Player of the Year Chris Thomas.
Prior to his three seasons at Elon, O’Keefe helped lead Cincinnati to the first Big East Conference championship in school history and an NCAA Tournament berth in his lone season with the Bearcats in 2006. During his time, he also coached the the 2006 Big East Offensive Player of the Year.
O’Keefe’s first opportunity as a Division I coach came at Wake Forest, where he helped lead the Demon Deacons to three NCAA Tournament appearances in three seasons (2003-05). WFU won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship and earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2004. All three of O’Keefe’s Demon Deacon squads won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the third round in both 2004 and 2005.
At Wake Forest, O’Keefe coached the ACC’s 2003 and 2004 Offensive Players of the Year and the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year.
O’Keefe’s began his coaching career with three seasons (2000-02) at his alma mater, Greensboro College. During his three-season coaching stint at Greensboro, the Pride won three-consecutive Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championships.
As a student-athlete at Greensboro, he helped the Pride to three NCAA Division III Tournament appearances, the 1996 South Region championship and the 1994 Dixie Conference title.
In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, O’Keefe has also served as a scout for the US Soccer Development Academy (2012-16), a head coach in the North Carolina Olympic Development program (2007-10), director of coaching for the Burlington Soccer Club in Burlington, N.C. (2007-10) and assistant director of coaching for the Twin City Soccer Association in Winston-Salem (2003-06).
A Dean’s List student, O’Keefe graduated from Greensboro College in 1997 with a B.A. in history. He holds a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) “A” license and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) advanced national diploma.
O'Keefe and his wife, Julie Isley O'Keefe, have one son Jonah Craig O'Keefe.
“I am humbled and honored to become the next head coach of the App State men’s soccer program,” O’Keefe said. “I am grateful to Dr. Sheri N. Everts and Doug Gillin for giving me this tremendous opportunity. I can’t wait to get started with the staff and team. We will work extremely hard every day to make everyone involved with App State — alumni, students, faculty, staff, community members and fans — proud of our program and our student-athletes on and off the field.”