by Cynthia Shah-Khan
Stumptown Athletic’s first official hire brings decades of experience to the new professional soccer club.
Mark Steffens will serve as head coach, adding expertise in player identification and development, mentoring young coaches and players, leadership and a history of winning to the team, which is part of the new National Independent Soccer Association.
Stumptown Athletic is based in Matthews and will play its first-ever game in September.
Media and Stumptown Athletic fans are invited to meet Steffens at 6 p.m. on Aug. 1 at Seaboard Brewing, 213 N. Trade St., Matthews.
“Mark is an incredible addition to the Stumptown Athletic crew,” said Casey Carr, Stumptown Athletic president and general manager. “He knows professional soccer inside and out, from recruiting and developing strong players to helping build a brand-new team from the ground up.”
The club is building that new team right now, accepting registrations for open tryouts that will take place on Aug. 5-6 at the Matthews Sportsplex. The process is open to eligible college seniors, qualified free agents and talented amateur players who are seeking a professional contract.
“This is an opportunity for players to join the club for its inaugural season, building a team from the ground up and setting the tone for years to come,” said Carr. “There is amazing talent available, and Mark is looking forward to putting together this new team.”
Steffens knows the game. He was a starter all four years at The King’s College in New York City, then signed with the New York Apollo of the American Soccer League. Shortly after ending his career as a professional player, he started coaching, first at the high school, then college level.
Steffens moved into the professional coaching realm when he joined the Major Indoor Soccer League’s New York Arrows, then the New York Express.
In 1997, he moved to Charlotte, accepting the head coaching role with the Charlotte Eagles, a position he held until 2014.
Under his leadership, the club won two USL-2 championships. Steffens was twice named USL-2 Coach of the Year, and in 2007, was inducted into the USL Hall of Fame. In 2014, he was hired as head coach of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. He’s currently the assistant coach for the Women’s Premiere Soccer League Lady Eagles.
“I’m excited to work with Stumptown Athletic, building the first team while also being part of a different type of club,” Steffens said. “Soccer is all about building a sense of community, from ensuring the players feel part of a team to creating a feeling of unity within our fans. That’s important to me. I live here, and I’m personally committed to developing a true hometown club.”
Carr agrees. “Stumptown Athletic is focused on youth player development and community investment. We want our players and staff to be a big part of that. I’ve followed Mark’s coaching career for a long time, and I’m excited to bring not only his professional experience to the club, but also his focus on our local towns.”
Steffens is already building the team roster and will be adding more players during the open tryouts, Aug. 5-6 at the Matthews Sportsplex.
Visit www.stumptownathletic.com/open-tryout-registration/ for more details.