Thursday, December 14, 2017

Men's Soccer Coach Payne Announces Retirement From Bloomsburg University

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. – For the first time since 1998, the Bloomsburg University men's soccer program will have a new head coach as Paul Payne will retire from his position after 19 seasons with the Huskies. The move will be effective at the end of January.

"I love being on the field, especially in training sessions with the players, but so much more is expected of college coaches off the field that has made it more difficult," explained Payne about his decision. "I have some other opportunities in continuing to grow Red Card Cancer so it's a new chapter in my life and I'm looking forward to it."
Payne leaves Bloomsburg as the all-time winningest coach in program history as he guided the Huskies to 146 career victories over his 19-year span. During his tenure, Payne led the Huskies to seven Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoff berths, PSAC Championship appearances in 2011 and 2014, and an NCAA playoff berth in 2014 – just the program's second-ever appearance and first since 1978.
But, according to Payne, his fondest memories don't involve wins or postseason accolades.
"Some of the games on the old grass field," Payne said. "The fans were, literally, right there with you – the emotion, and the mud, and the wind – those games will always be special. And, then our alumni gatherings have just exploded and I'm quite proud of that. When I see these guys come back, it's like nothing changed – except now they are all professionals and some have gone on to great things. To me, my measure of success is what these guys have done since playing here."
Under his tutelage, Payne coached 34 All-PSAC honorees, 22 All-Region selections, two PSAC Freshmen of the Year, four Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in Bryce Shaffer (twice; 2011 and 2012) and Josh Smith (twice; 2015 and 2016), and one Daktronics All-American in Matt Zima (2014). Payne, himself, earned the PSAC Coach of the Year honors twice – 2009 and 2014.
However, one of his biggest accomplishments came back in 2009 when he created the Red Card Cancer program – a program designed to raise awareness of, and raise money for, cancer research. What started as a tribute to Payne's long-time friend and mentor, Joe Bochicchio, it has grown into a 501(c)(3) organization with national reach and a growing impact on all levels of soccer in the United States. Since 2010, Red Card Cancer has been closely affiliated with the internationally renowned Johns Hopkins' Sidney Kimmel Cancer Research Center, which is at the forefront of conducting translational cancer research. Currently, 100% of the funds raised by Red Card Cancer help the cancer researchers and scientists at Johns Hopkins.
"There are certainly growth possibilities and there is a future there," commented Payne. "It's tough to leave the day-to-day coaching, but I'm excited to have that chance to continue to grow the program and I'm excited to see where it can go."
"I'm proud that it started here at Bloomsburg University and I never expected it to be where it is today," continued Payne. "But, in the next few years, when you talk about non-profit soccer organizations, I think Red Card Cancer will be the name that continues to pop up and that is our mission."
Earlier this month, Payne was granted Coaching Emeritus status by the University. He becomes only the third coach to earn the honor as he joins former football coach Danny Hale and former field hockey and softball coach Jan Hutchinson. "It's a great honor, but I'm not sure I know how to spell it," joked Payne. "But, in all seriousness, to be mentioned with Jan and Danny in anything regarding coaching is a tremendous honor. Their coaching records and their championships won far exceed mine, so it's humbling. It's nice to be recognized by your peers."
Payne may be retiring from Bloomsburg University, but he will not be leaving the sport. In addition to continuing to grow Red Card Cancer, Payne hopes to keep his hand in coaching at many different levels.
"My wife Brenda and I will probably head down to North Carolina where we bought a house on the beach," explained Payne. "If I'm not out on my paddleboard, I'm going to do some work with North Carolina Youth Soccer both as a coach and coach educator. I'll try to work with some local clubs and high schools down there and keep my hand in it because I love to be on the field."
A nationwide search for Payne's replacement has already begun with the announcement of Bloomsburg's newest men's soccer head coach expected in the coming weeks.
"I certainly wish the current players nothing but the best," concluded Payne. "I hope the new coach comes in and continues the proud tradition of Bloomsburg University men's soccer."
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