By Mike Ballard
For the past two collegiate soccer seasons, Tom Greenawalt has been forced to divide his attention to coaching details.
Greenawalt won't have that problem any more after being named as the head coach of the Rutgers University-Camden women's soccer team. Greenawalt succeeds Brian Sheehan, who resigned last fall after his fifth year with the Lady Raptors' program.
Greenawalt is looking forward to the challenge, as well as the opportunity to concentrate on one team. For the past two years, he has worked in the dual role as head coach for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Albright College in Reading, PA. He also coached the Lady Lions’ team in 2002 before adding the men’s job the next season.
“It was strenuous at times,” said the 29-year-old Greenawalt. “All road trips were done together. We’d always play doubleheaders. The practices were even longer.”
Yet it wasn’t the double-duty as much as Greenawalt’s growing knowledge of Rutgers-Camden that prompted his interest in the Scarlet Raptors’ coaching position, which became available when Sheehan resigned to pursue other interests. Greenawalt’s Albright teams played the Raptors in a soccer doubleheader Oct. 19, 2004 at Rutgers-Camden Community Park. His women posted a 1-1 tie in double overtime against Rutgers-Camden, while the Scarlet Raptor men blanked Albright, 4-0. The two women’s teams also played on Sept. 3, 2003 at Albright, with Rutgers-Camden winning, 1-0.
“This team here is a solid team,” said Greenawalt, who inherits a program entering its eighth varsity season. He now has the luxury of recruiting at a state university, featuring a state-of-the-art facility covered in synthetic FieldTurf.
“The program is already established,” Greenawalt said. “New Jersey is like the soccer capital of the world. Recruiting will be a lot easier here.”
In addition to his professional job as a disciplinarian at a Philadelphia high school, Greenawalt had to juggle recruiting and numerous other duties involved in coaching a pair of collegiate soccer programs. He took over the Lady Lions in 2002 and led them to an 8-10-1 record, a major improvement over the previous year’s 2-7 team that finished with too few players to complete the season. In 2003, he added duties as Albright’s men’s coach, and once again led a fine turnaround. The men went 7-11-1 after going 1-14-2 the previous season. Greenawalt’s women, meanwhile, posted a 7-10-3 mark in 2003.
Last fall the Albright men were 4-13-2, while the women recorded an outstanding 13-6-3 record.
“I feel I left the program in a much better position than when I took it over,” he said.
Greenawalt takes over a Lady Raptors program which went 12-6-2 last fall and qualified for its second consecutive berth in the New Jersey Athletic Conference playoffs.
A former all-state soccer player at Muhlenberg High School, Greenawalt is the program’s career leader in goals (68), assists (72) and points (208).
Greenawalt went on to have a standout four-year career at Marshall University from 1994-98, earning numerous honors as a senior, including First Team All-Mid-American Conference, Academic All-MAC and All-Mid East Region Second Team. He was the MVP of the Virginia Classic Tournament as his team earned runner-up status, and he led the team with 17 points (eight goals, one assist). He was a Deans List student at Marshall and a member of the Southern Conference Honor Roll. He capped his career earning selection to Marshall’s 25th anniversary all-time men’s soccer team.
Greenawalt graduated from Marshall in 1999 with a BA in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, and started pursuing his Masters degree at Washington College, where he also served two seasons as a graduate assistant men’s soccer coach. He spent a year as the assistant women’s soccer coach at Haverford College in 2001 before earning the head women’s coaching job at Albright.
Greenawalt also serves as the captain of the Reading Rage soccer club, a member of the Premier Development League (PDL). Entering his seventh year with the team, Greenawalt has served the Rage in numerous capacities, including as the head coach of the Girls and Boys Premier Youth Teams and his ongoing role as the assistant director of the team’s summer youth camps.
“Rutgers is very lucky,” said Rage owner Jerry Wojton. “I think you made a great choice. Tom is a solid player and he’s passionate towards the game. He takes the game very seriously. He’s 100 percent focused on the game. On the field he’s seen by everyone, he’s heard by everyone and he communicates well with everyone. He’s great with the fans. He’s extremely knowledgeable. He’s a very smart young man. Rutgers is fortunate to have him.”
That sentiment is echoed by Rutgers-Camden Athletic Director Jeff Dean.
“He brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the program,” Dean said. “We’re excited to have Tom on our coaching staff.”
Greenawalt shares that enthusiasm about his new position.
“I’m excited,” said the Lady Raptors’ coach, who lives in Ardmore, PA, with his wife Wendy and four-month-old son Tye Thomas. “Usually when you take over a new job, you’re overwhelmed. I’m not. I’m happy. I’m delighted.”
The Lady Raptors open their season Sept. 1 with a game at Johns Hopkins University.