James Madison men’s soccer Head Coach Paul Zazenski signed a five-year contract extension through the 2023 season, as announced by Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne on December 17.
“Paul was presented with a unique opportunity under unique circumstances when he took the reins of our men’s soccer program in early August,” Bourne said. “Needless to say, he did a tremendous job pulling the team together and uniting our young men to achieve one of the greatest seasons in JMU soccer history. He Seized the opportunity and we are thrilled to reward Paul and his family with the chance to stay in Harrisonburg and guide JMU men’s soccer to an even brighter future.”
In his first year at the helm, Zazenski was named the Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year after leading his team to the 2018 regular-season title and the program’s sixth CAA championship. The Dukes went on to play in the 2018 NCAA Championship where they reached the Quarterfinals for the first time since 1995.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank Mr. Jeff Bourne, Kevin White, Charlie King and all of the JMU administration for the opportunity to continue leading the JMU men’s soccer program for years to come,” Zazenski said. “The past four seasons as both an assistant and now head coach have been special in so many ways. My family and I have established roots in the city of Harrisonburg and within the JMU community – we truly feel at home.”
Zazenski and his staff were named the Regional Staff of the Year for the Atlantic region by United Soccer Coaches while five student-athletes earned All-Atlantic Region honors after posting a 15-5-3 overall record in the 2018 campaign. Fifteen wins on the season inks Zazenski in the record book as the winningest first-year coach in JMU men’s soccer history. He was also named the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Coach of the Year and the VaSID Coach of the Year.
Under Zazenski’s leadership, JMU made it in to the United Soccer Coaches Poll for the first time since 2011, earning a spot at No. 25 on October 23. The Dukes were recognized in the poll for six straight weeks. Following a stellar year, James Madison finished the season ranked No. 8 in Top Drawer Soccer, No. 9 in College Soccer News and No. 10 in the United Soccer Coaches Polls.
The Dukes won their second consecutive regular-season title after going 6-2 in conference action this season. Zazenski headlined the CAA postseason honors as JMU snagged a program-record ten awards while nine student-athletes were All-CAA Team selections.
Before being named head coach on August 8, 2018, he had been the associate head coach and an assistant coach of JMU men's soccer since the 2015 season, coordinating aspects of both program operations and player development. In 2017, Zazenski helped the Dukes to a 9-7-3 overall record and 5-1-2 in CAA play to take the regular-season conference championship. JMU captured a program-record eight players on the All-CAA teams, headlined by Manuel Ferriol earning a spot on the First Team.
Zazenski came from the University of Great Falls (Providence) where he had served as the head men's soccer coach for the past five seasons and earned an impressive 70-23-4 record. He has led the team to four conference championships, two NAIA National Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011 where his team advanced to the Sweet 16 both times. He was recognized as the conference Coach of the Year three times, including this past season, and was named NAIA Regional Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year Finalist in 2010 after a 16-4-1 record. His teams have been ranked in the NAIA Top 25 during four seasons while also coaching at least one NAIA All-American in each of those four seasons. His teams also were successful in the classroom, sporting a cumulative team GPA of at least 3.2 for the past four years and ranking as the top NAIA school with nine Academic All-Americans in 2014.
In addition to his college duties, Zazenski spent six years as the head coach of the Montana United Showcase U16 and U19 teams that developed players from all over the state. He also worked as the Electric City Soccer Club Director of Coaching from 2011-2013.
Prior to his time as head coach at Great Falls, Zazenski served as the top assistant with the program, with specific duties regarding goalkeeper coaching and recruiting. Prior to that, he spent three years as a high school soccer coach at Southwest Guilford High School in Jamestown, North Carolina.
Zazenski holds a National Soccer Coaches Association of America Advanced National Coaching License. Zazenski played four years of college soccer at UNC Greensboro from 2002-05, helping the Spartans to a pair of Southern Conference championships and back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances.
He earned his bachelor's degree in exercise, sports and science from UNC Greensboro in 2005 and finished his master's in organizational development with a management concentration in 2013 from Great Falls. He and his wife, Donna, have two sons, Calen and Davis, and a daughter, Cora.