Justin Wagar enters his second year at Grambling State University in 2018.
In just one season he was able to turn around a team that had struggled to post more than two wins in a season let alone make the playoffs in the last five years.
The Lady Tigers compiled an 11-7-2 in Wagar's first year at the helm, guiding them to a second-place finish in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) regular season standings. Grambling State advanced to the SWAC Tournament title game, before falling in shootout penalty kicks to Alabama State. For his efforts, Wagar was named the SWAC Conference Coach of the Year, and the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year, while the team was honored as the Team of the Year at the 2018 Grambling State University Athletic Awards Show.
Wagar brings 16 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level to Grambling State. In 12 years as a head coach, Wagar has coached on the NCAA Division I, II and NAIA Division I levels, while compiling a 122-91-19 record. His teams have earned 10 playoff bids and made two appearances in national tournaments. He has garnered four Coach of the Year honors during that time span.
Prior to Grambling State, Wagar served as the recruiting coordinator and top assistant coach at Portland State University. Before Portland State, Wagar coached at nearby Eastern Oregon University, where he led the team to a 26-10-4 record between 2015-2017, making him the winningest coach in EOU history.
In 2015, the Mountaineers qualified for the national tournament with a 17-3-1 record. That year, they posted the seventh-best record in the nation and had the fourth-best defense and 14th-best offense in the country.
From 2009-2014, Wagar was the head coach at Division II New Mexico Highlands University. In just two years, he turned the program around from one that had 16 straight losing seasons to a 12-win campaign, which featured a trip to the NCAA tournament.
He helped the NMHU Cowgirls break every record in the soccer program’s 16-year history, including records for most goals, wins, winning percentage and attendance per game. He also led the team to its first-ever playoff victory and first bid to the NCAA National tournament. Also, he was honored as the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
In addition to coaching 18 all-conference players and the program’s first-ever All-Americans, Wagar led NMHU to five consecutive seasons with the team grade-point average above 3.0 and saw two student-athletes earn Student of the Year honors at the university. He left NMHU as the winningest coach in program history.
Prior to his time at NMHU, Wagar served as an assistant coach at NCAA Division I Eastern Washington University after spending two seasons at Brigham Young University-Hawaii.
At BYU-Hawaii, Wagar was asked to start the women’s soccer program and was able to lead the inaugural squad to a 12-4 record and a second-place finish in the Pacific West Conference. That same season, BYU-Hawaii recorded the 15th-best scoring offense in the nation among NCAA Division II squads and the 22nd-toughest defense in the country. In 2007, the Seasiders claimed the conference championship with a 10-2 league record and finished 13-6-1 overall. Wagar was selected as the Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year.
Before taking the job at BYU-Hawaii, Wagar coached at Utah Valley University for two and a half years before stepping in as the interim head coach in 2005. In his first stint as a Division 1 head coach, Wagar led the team to a first-place seed in the United Soccer Conference Tournament. He has mentored seven golden boot winners (leading scorers in the conference) and four All-American strikers, as well as had four top-25 nationally ranked offenses and five nationally ranked defenses in his career.
Wagar played collegiately at BYU-Hawaii from 1998-99, where he captained the team as a sweeper and led the Seasiders to the most successful season in school history.
He also played in the collegiate club national championships as the center back for Utah Valley University, helping the team to a runner-up finish in the national title game. He ultimately earned All-America honors as a defender. Wagar also helped lead the Utah Olympic Development Program men’s team to its first-ever West Coast title and a third-place finish at Florida’s ODP Select National Tournament in 2005.
A native of Kennewick, Wash., Wagar graduated from BYU-Hawaii in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in exercise science. He is married to Jamae Wagar and have three children, Isabelle Marie, Grayson and Maxtin Asher.