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CPUSA names two to fill one vacant position

Fran Reidy and Joel Harrison take over Mike Parsons' former job.

By STEVE LEE
Published June 20, 2006


LAND O'LAKES - With both sides citing philosophical differences, Mike Parsons resigned last month as the Central Pasco United Soccer Association's coaching director.

That left the board with no clear-cut leader with competitive tryouts looming, but two replacements took over for Parsons in time for last weekend's tryouts at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Complex.

Saint Leo athletic director Fran Reidy and Saint Leo men's coach Joel Harrison have taken over as executive director and director of coaching, respectively.

"It's a crucial time of year," CPUSA president Jennifer Higgins said. "Things happen when they happen, and you figure out a way to deal with it."

"It's never good right before tryouts if your director of coaching leaves," added Ricky Spencer, who coaches an under-10 boys team in the CPUSA's competitive division. "It might have put a black eye on the CPUSA, but I think we came out smelling pretty good."

Reidy and Harrison were approved by the board at a hastily convened meeting on June 5. The Saint Leo contingent also includes assistant coaches Richard Gorski and Jo Curtis, who will help work with and train players in CPUSA's competitive program.

"A lot of these clubs hire a director of coaching to make soccer decisions, and then they don't necessarily like some of those decisions,'' Reidy said. "It's a delicate balance."

This is the second time in the past three seasons the CPUSA has sought college coaching. Parsons replaced George Kiefer in 2004 when the South Florida men's coach resigned, he said, to spend more time with his family.

Parsons signed a three-year contract for an undisclosed amount, Higgins said, but departed a year before it ran out.

"I'm going to be looking to work with other clubs in the area,'' said Parsons, who resides in Clearwater. "There was a difference of opinion from some of the people on the board of directors, and it made it difficult to get the job done."

Parsons also was aware of talk that some had a problem with him commuting from Clearwater.

"It was a bit of a drive,'' he said, "but it wasn't a problem for me."

Reidy lives in Land O'Lakes and has been a volunteer coach in the CPUSA. His U-14 boys team was among three boys squads and a girls squad from the league to make it to the State Cup in the spring.

Harrison lives in Wesley Chapel, so both Saint Leo coaches are close. Plus, CPUSA players are usually among locals who attend the Division II school's summer soccer camps.

"It makes a lot of sense to work with the local college," Higgins said. "It's a very nice fit."

"I liked Mike Parsons," said CPUSA coach Dave Wilson, who coached boys soccer at Zephyrhills before accepting a similar post at Wiregrass, which opens in August. "I think having Fran and Joe, basically two guys doing the job of one guy before, that'll be a plus right off the bat."

Harrison is looking ahead and agreed that two leaders are better than one.

"Mike moved on, and they needed some help right away," Harrison said. "That's one reason Fran and I are doing it together: to spread the workload out."

Reidy feels his emphasis should be on strengthening the league's competitive branch, so unlike in years past, older teens will not depart Land O'Lakes for successful programs in Hillsborough County such as Hillsborough United and Tampa Blackwatch.

"In the past, (players are) getting to a certain age level and they're going to other clubs," Reidy said. "Other clubs have been successful at older levels, so they're drawn to them."

Keeping more talented players in the future can be beneficial to the CPUSA and Saint Leo.

"Every college wants a connection with a feeder system, be it with a player base or a fan base, " Reidy said. "It's a natural for us."

Contact Steve Lee at lee@sptimes.com