By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
University of Charleston-Beckley took a big step towards rebuilding from the ashes of Mountain State University Thursday afternoon.
President Jerry Forster introduced the hiring of five coaches that will lead UC-Beckley’s athletics program for the 2013-14 seasons.
“I’m very excited to welcome our first five coaches to UC-Beckley today,” said Dr. Foster. “Each of these young coaches have a tie to the University previous to today’s announcement, so they will be able to immediately incorporate UC’s long-standing history of athletic excellence to our athletic program.”
Daniel Mitchell and Lisa Lee will head up the men’s and women’s basketball programs respectively, while Ryan Osborne and Sabrina Mullaney will coach the men’s and women’s soccer teams. Kelsey Eby will be the university’s women’s volleyball coach.
UC-Beckley will participate in the NCAA division II junior varsity division.
“We’re really excited about having athletics on the UC-Beckley campus,” athletic director Bren Stephens said. “Our main focus is to help to build this residential campus. We’re excited about that. We want to engage the people in southern West Virginia.”
Women’s basketball coach Lisa Lee is the most recognizable name of the new coaches. Lee was a First Team All-American while playing for the University of Charleston, where she led the Golden Eagles to three straight NCAA Tournaments including two Elite Eight appearances. She also played six season as a professional in Europe and has most recently been an assistant coach for Charleston Catholic.
“I’m really excited,” Lee said. “I’ve been on the playing side of basketball for the last 10 years. I’m excited to give back what I’ve learned. I’m looking forward to learning a lot and hoping to inspire other people from the things I’ve done and the experiences I’ve had.”
Daniel Mitchell will have big shoes to fill as he takes over a men’s program that will always be associated with the success of Bob Bolen and Mountain State University.
“It feels great to be here,” Mitchell said. “We have nice facilities and a great weight room. When I walked in here and saw the poster and trophies from national championships - hopefully someday we can get that back. I feel like we can get players to come here, since it’s the first program for UC-Beckley.”
Mitchell hopes to meet with the man who helped make much of that success possible.
“I haven’t had a chance to speak with Coach Bolen yet,” Mitchell said. “I look forward to that happening soon.”
Men’s soccer coach Ryan Osborne comes to UC-Beckley from Wakefield, England. He was formerly a player for the Golden Eagles before transitioning to a student coaching role last season.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity. I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Osborne said. “I don’t think it will be easy, but I’m looking forward to giving student-athletes from West Virginia and the surrounding states an opportunity to come and continue their soccer and academic development at UC-Beckley.”
Sabrina Mullaney is a 2012 graduate of the University of Charleston, where she played for coach Todd Diuguid’s women’s soccer team for four seasons. On top of being a premier athlete, Mullaney earned NSCAA All-Academic honors during her tenure at UC. She hopes that the experiences she’s had will help grow the game in the region.
“Women’s soccer has grown a lot since I was a kid,” Mullaney said. “When I was a kid you didn’t see it much, but now it’s growing. Hopefully we’ll be able to grab some of the young women from this area and help them develop. I’ve started recruiting some young women in the Beckley area and am looking forward to the opportunity to coach them.”
Kelsey Eby comes to Beckley from Portland, Ore. She has been a standout volleyball player for four seasons at the University of Charleston. The college senior will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Administration from UC in May. Eby said she jumped at the opportunity to coach.
“To be able to jump right into this and start coaching is amazing,” Eby said. “I’m honored for the opportunity. It’s overwhelming at times, but at the same time it’s exciting. I love new challenges. I’ve started recruiting young women here who are excited to play and further their athletics and academics.”
The five young coaches will begin their careers hot on the recruiting trail, needing to build programs from scratch. Athletic director Bren Stephens made a passionate plea to the residents of southern W. Va. for assistance.
“If there are people who know of any athletes in high school in this area, please send them our way,” she said. “We are very interested in talking to them.”
— E-mail: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins