After nearly a month of searching, Director of Athletics Rob Spear announced Monday that Derek Pittman, a four-year associate head coach at Gonzaga University, has been hired as the next head coach of the University of Idaho’s women’s soccer team.
The 39 year-old Pittman, who will become just the fourth head coach in the team’s 15 year history, comes to the Vandals with 13 years of experience in collegiate coaching, three of which was spent as the head coach of the women’s soccer program at Arkansas State.
“I am very excited to have Derek join the Vandal family,” said Spear. “His proven success as a Division I head coach and his knowledge and recruiting expertise, especially in the Northwest, will propel our soccer program forward. We expect Derek will bring the same success enjoyed by our other women's programs.”
During his tenure at Arkansas State, he helped lead the Redwolves to a semi-final spot in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in 2009, a first in the program’s history. He also guided the team to a program best eight wins, along with season-highs in points, goals, assists, shutouts, saves and goals against average.
Following his time at ASU, Pittman joined Gonzaga, where he was responsible for the training of defenders and goalkeepers. Under his tutelage, the Bulldogs hit a seven-year best in goals-against average in 2013.
A native of Owasso, Okla, Pittman’s time on the field could prove to be an incredible coaching asset. A four-year starting goalkeeper at the University of Tulsa, Pittman earned All-Missouri Valley Conference Second Team honors during his junior year and led the Golden Hurricanes to a national ranking in his senior season. After graduating in 1998 with a degree in business administration, Pittman served as a graduate assistant coach for Tulsa’s men’s soccer program from 2001-2003, where the team’s goalkeepers recorded career bests in saves, shutouts and goals against average in a season. He would go on to work as an assistant coach at the University of Georgia (2003-2004) and the University of Missouri (2004-2006), before finally landing at Arkansas State.
“I am extremely excited to be the new head soccer coach at the University of Idaho,” stated Pittman during the announcement. “I would like to sincerely thank Rob Spear and everyone on the search committee for affording me this tremendous opportunity and I am honored to have this chance to work with our student-athletes to build a successful Vandal soccer program.
“During my conversations with Rob about this opening, it was clear that the University of Idaho is committed to competing at the highest level, winning on the field as well as achieving success in the classroom. I am confident that with that support we will compete for both academic awards and championships on the field as we move forward in the Big Sky Conference.”
Pittman replaces former head coach Peter Showler, the winningest coach in program history, who departed from the team in mid-December of 2013. Showler had 50 wins in nine seasons with the team; leading the team to a program best 14-7 record in 2010. Larry Forster (1998-2001) and Arby Busey (2002-2004) coached the team during the program’s first seven years.
The Vandals finished just 4-16 in 2013, going 4-8 in the Western Athletic Conference. Despite the record, Idaho did qualify for their fourth consecutive WAC Tournament , falling in the semi-finals. Pittman will have the luxury of 16 letter-winners returning from that 2013, losing only six to graduation.
“I would like to take this chance to thank Amy Edwards and Gonzaga for the opportunity to represent that institution,” added Pittman. “It was very rewarding to coach such quality players and experience immense growth as a coach on the Bulldog staff these past four years.”
Pittman and his wife, Amber, have two daughters, Emma, and Jozy.