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Spartan Soccer Bleeds Success as Athlete and Coach

Tampa coaches give signals to Spartan stars. Abby Sanford/The Minaret

Tampa coaches give signals to Spartan stars. Abby Sanford/The Minaret

The University of Tampa men’s soccer program has a rich, successful history.

The Spartans have won three national championships under three head coaches.

For the team’s current coaching staff, this success begins with it a special commitment to the program.

Three of the team’s coaches – head coach Adrian Bush, assistant coach Maurice Loregnard and goalkeepers’ coach Eric Sims – all played at UT before returning as coaches.

For Bush, it’s all about his lifelong association with the Spartans.

“I grew up watching UT as a kid in the 1980s,” Bush said. “I could name the whole roster.”

Of the numerous UT keepsakes in his office, perhaps the most interesting is a handwritten evaluation from a youth camp he attended in 1980 at age seven. The camp was run by the Spartans’ first head coach, Jay Miller, who rated Bush a nine out of ten.

Bush was a forward for the Spartans from 1990-94, winning the Division II Player of the Year award and a national title as a senior. He was inducted into the Sunshine State

Conference Hall of Fame as a player in 2002. Four years later, the school elected him to its Hall of Fame.

After UT, Bush played soccer professionally for four years, during which time he coached at Gaither High School in Tampa. He won a state championship there in 2000 and helped form the local youth club HC United, which now contains more than 2,000 kids.

Bush returned to UT as an assistant coach in 1996 during the pro leagues’ offseason, staying through 1998. He returned again as a full-time assistant in 2004, and was promoted the following year after the passing of Hall of Fame coach Tom Fitzgerald.

“I was very fortunate, being able to work with Tom for the last eight months of his life,” Bush said. “He’s one of the greatest coaches of all time.”

Loregnard’s path was paved differently. A native of Trinidad, he started at Young Harris (Ga.) Junior College before transferring to Tampa for his junior season in 1999. He became a team captain and was voted the team’s best defensive player as a senior.

Maurice Loregnard

Maurice Loregnard

Loregnard then became a graduate assistant coach on the 2001 national championship squad.

He has been instrumental as a defensive coach, helping guide four All-American goalies.

He coaches youth in his spare time, carrying the elite U.S. Soccer Federation “A” coaching license. He also helped start a new tradition at UT.

At the time of Loregnard’s graduation, the school only gave personalized plaques to those who played there for four years.

It was he who sparked a debate about himself and other transfers being excluded. Now every player who graduates from UT receives a plaque.

Sims, who currently coaches at Gaither in addition to UT, was a Spartan from 1996-99.

He was the four-year starting goalie and still holds school records for games, minutes played, saves and shutouts.

Sims played minor league soccer for four years, but couldn’t resist the temptation to coach with his alma mater.

The Jesuit High School graduate started as an assistant with the Spartans in 2004 after helping coach Jesuit to two state titles and briefly working at the University of SouthFlorida.

Eric Sims

Eric Sims

He has coached the goalkeepers for both the men’s and the women’s team

The historic lineage of the staff speaks for itself.

Bush played for Fitzgerald, who learned under Miller. Loregnard and Sims played for Keith Fulk, who also taught Bush.

To the current coaches, the program’s history is driving its future. It should remain this way for a long time to come — Bush says it “would take a lot” for him to leave UT.

The coaches consider themselves to be “like a band of brothers.” They work together, pull pranks on each other and attend recreational outings such as pro wrestling events, all in family-like harmony.

“It’s a very tight group,” Bush said. “I’m very lucky to have Maurice and Eric working here. The biggest things we have are our work ethic and our pride for The University of Tampa.”

“It’s in our blood. I bleed University of Tampa.”

Brenton can be reached at bburkett@ut.edu.

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