MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU alumnus Dan Stratford was officially welcomed back to Morgantown Saturday morning as he was introduced as WVU’s new men’s soccer head coach.
“Throughout the search one name kept coming to the top, and that was Dan Stratford,” said WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons. “We looked at people from two and three thousand miles away and the guy closest to home had the ability to do just that — to come home to West Virginia University.”
Stratford compiled a 61-4-5 record in three seasons as the head coach at the University of Charleston, winning NCAA Division II national championships in 2017 and 2019. The London, England native enjoyed a brief professional playing career, including a season at D.C. United in 2008. But Stratford knew at a young age that coaching would be his best avenue for continued success in the game of soccer.
“My career as a younger player had some ups and downs and I figured at the age of fifteen or sixteen that I would be better as a coach than a player,” Stratford said. “The biggest influence was my father. He coached me throughout my entire youth career.”
Stratford is the second consecutive head coach from the University of Charleston to transition to the Division I level. Chris Grassie led Marshall to the NCAA Sweet 16 this season.
“Chris was a visionary for what the model needed to look like at UC,” Stratford said. “It was good for me to leave the nest, to leave WVU and grow. I played for Marlon (LeBlanc), I coached with Marlon and obviously have a lot of gratitude for what he has done for me over the years as well.”
Stratford led WVU to 54 victories in his four years as a player. He was a member of three NCAA Tournament teams.
“The connection I have and the affinity I have for this place, my core values, my philosophy, the environment I want to create it all stems from my time here as a player.”
West Virginia is coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. The Mountaineers defeated Butler in the opening round this season, before falling to Marshall in the Round of 32.
“The program collectively, this isn’t broken and needing to be fixed. The first month for me will be learning as much as I can, gathering info about the players and learning what the needs are of the program.”
Stratford’s roster at UC was heavily influenced by international players.
“It is a global market. At UC we had 27 different countries represent the program last season. Whether they are domestic or international, it is about taking that diverse market and making it an inclusive as possible.”
Stratford’s staff is complete with the naming of assistant coaches Andy Wright and Nick Noble. Both are former WVU teammates.
“I played with Andy for four years and I played with Nick for three. That bond and that collective team spirit that we had, that’s why the philosophy is what it is. I want the players to take ownership of this program and I want them to feel like this is theirs. We are here to supplement that but this belongs to them.”