Lee University

Lee University Athletics
PO Box 3450 1120 North Ocoee Street Cleveland, TN 37320
Division 2 Tennessee Southeast
Private Medium Competitive team


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Derek Potteiger

Derek Potteiger, a two-time All-American at Penn State University and former first assistant at the United States Naval Academy (2009-13), has been named Lee University's men's soccer coach.

Lee athletic director Larry Carpenter announced that Potteiger would become the new head coach at Lee, an institution of over five thousand students in Cleveland, Tennessee, on Thursday morning while attending the 2017 NCAA Convention in Nashville.

At Penn State, Potteiger was selected All-Big 10 four times and captained the soccer team for three seasons, finishing with a 3.5 GPA.

"We are excited to have coach Potteiger join our coaching staff and to lead the men's soccer program," said Carpenter. "He is an outstanding coach with experience at both the NCAA DI and DIII levels. He has transformed the soccer program at Gordon College, which is a small DIII school in the Boston area, and he should thrive at a larger DII institution like Lee which offers such excellent resources and athletic reputation.

"Derek brings an exciting up-tempo style of play which we feel will generate enthusiasm across campus and throughout the community. His teams are known for their intensity and explosiveness and his players love playing for him.

"Men's soccer in the Gulf South Conference (GSC) and NCAA South Region is extremely competitive. We believe Coach Potteiger is the person to lead us forward."

Potteiger, who played professionally in the USL for several years, served as head coach at NCAA Division III Gordon (Wenham, Massachusetts) for the past four years where his teams posted an impressive 61-18-3 record. He took a Gordon team that won only six games prior to his arrival in 2012 to 19 wins in 2013 and was named conference coach of the year. He directed the Gordon squad to its first two NCAA tournament wins.

"Derek is one of the brightest young soccer coaches in the nation," said Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn. "He has shown what he can do as a head coach at a small DIII school, and I believe he will be immediately successful at the DII level, and in the Gulf South Conference."

Potteiger and his family will be welcomed and introduced to the Lee community at a session with the press and public on Monday, January 23, at 11:00 a.m. The event is set for the Deacon Jones Dining Hall on campus.

"We're looking forward to welcoming Derek, his wife Jennifer, and his four lovely daughters (Alexis, Rylee, Abbigail and Reese) to the Lee University family," Conn added.

Potteiger expressed his excitement about his new opportunity: "If you are in the world of Christian higher education, you know Lee University and its reputation, and you know the quality of the athletic programs Lee has developed. They have already made a successful move to DII, and what I see there is exciting," he explained. "I loved my time at Gordon in DIII, but my roots were in D1, so I was really looking forward to an opportunity to jump up to the next level."

Potteiger worked under the legendary coach Dave Brandt at a Naval Academy program that was a bottom 10 program in 2008 and rose to a Top 25 program by 2013, pointed straight to leadership when asked why he considered the Lee position.

"I think you can tell a lot about anything through the leadership," he said. "To have been able to meet Dr. Conn and Coach Carpenter and talk with some of the other coaches on campus about the overall athletic vision, it speaks tons about the school, the quality of the athletic programs and the directions that it is heading."

The new coach also did his homework, taking time to check out the talent level for next fall. "Yes absolutely, I have looked at the roster," he acknowledged. "I tried to digest as much information as I could. I think there is a good core group of guys returning. Everybody I have talked to in different realms believes the men's team is poised to be good maybe even beyond next year.

"I took over a Gordon program that had 10 healthy field players and went into the next fall knowing that I only had 12 field players. Knowing I'm already four or five steps ahead of that at Lee really gets me excited."

Having coached at two different levels of NCAA soccer, Potteiger explained what he sees as the biggest transition from DIII to DII soccer. "I think anytime you go up a level, everything's going to be faster; faster movement, faster thought and faster speed of play. The increase in speed actually is another reason I'm enticed to come to DII.

"My vision for playing is fast," he added. "Tempo and fast pace are words that are going to resound through our program at Lee. To have players who can do everything faster is really important for me. I think at DII you are competing with the D1s and you can find players that are tactically sound, technically capable, have the right soccer IQ situationally, and then are athletically capable. Those are the four prongs for me."

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Torrey Stricklin

Lee men's soccer coach Derek Potteiger has announced the hiring of Torrey Stricklin as the new assistant coach for the Flames.

Stricklin comes to Lee after a successful playing career for coach Potteiger at Gordon College (2012-2016).

After graduating in 2016 Stricklin served on staff at Brown University as an assistant coach in 2017 and was also a coach for a top club team in the New England Revolution Academy. Stricklin has his national coaching diploma from the United Soccer Coaches.

"I've known Derek for several years and loved playing for him so I jumped at the opportunity to join his staff here at Lee," said Stricklin. "We have built a great relationship both on and off the field. I love his vision and the culture he is establishing here at Lee."

"I am thrilled to have Torrey join the Lee men's soccer family. He and I have known each other for quite some time as I initially recruited Torrey to the Naval Academy and then fortunately got to coach him for three years when I moved to Gordon College," said Potteiger. "He was a key player and a team captain at Gordon during one of the most successful spells the men's soccer program ever had, and then immediately jumped into the coaching realm after graduating. He's had a couple great opportunities to learn at a top Ivy League School in Brown University and then a with the top Academy in New England – the New England Revolution, that have helped him establish his own coaching identity and philosophy. The combination of having played for me and knowing how I want to build a program; and then having other key coaching experiences at these other places makes him the perfect addition to my staff here at Lee."

When asked what he was most excited about Stricklin said, "I feel like the program is headed in the right direction and I think we have all the tools here to be very successful. I love the Christian community that is present here at Lee. It really speaks to why I got into coaching in the first place. I had a great experience at Brown and with the New England Revolution but I'm thrilled to be able to join up with Derek and partner with his vision for the program at such a special place like Lee."

The Flames finished their first year under coach Potteiger at 6-6-4 overall and were 4-5-2 in the Gulf South Conference.

Potteiger was quick to note that Stricklin is already making an impact, "He has hit the ground running and done a great job thus far, but there is still a lot for us to get done as we finish up our spring season. I am looking forward to having Torrey, and his wife Shelby, here with us in the coming years."

Stricklin and his wife Shelby, who also played soccer at Gordon, will be moving to Cleveland and have been married for a year and a half.

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Gabe Franco

Said head coach Derek Potteiger:

“Gabe had a great playing career here at Lee and it’s been great to see his passion for the program and school only increase since he graduated. It really speaks to his character to invest in the way he has both in the day to day operations of the program but also relationally with the guys.”

“Not all good players make good coaches, but Gabe certainly has the ability to be a great coach. He will have a lot of opportunities in front of him and am thankful he is spending these couple extra years here with his alma mater.”

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Quade Marinell

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