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Meet the coach: Darren Powell

by Jack Rodenfels,
  • Photo courtesy of Elon University Media Relations.

Take one look at the Phoenix sideline during a men's soccer match, and you will see a man furiously pacing up and down the pitch, wildly flailing his arms, trying to get his team's — even the referee's — attention.

No, that man isn't trying to get thrown out of the match. It's just head coach Darren Powell doing what he does best — earnestly guiding his team on the soccer pitch.

Entering his sixth season at the helm for the Phoenix, Powell has no problem showing his enthusiasm and true love for the game to his team, senior goalkeeper Clint Irwin said.

"His passion translates onto the field," Irwin said.  "You can see how much he cares about the game and wants to win, and it obviously has a trickle-down effect on us as players."

In his fifth year as head coach, Powell has led the Phoenix to a .500 or better record each season. Under Powell's leadership, the men's soccer team has achieved a bevy of firsts for Elon athletics including guiding the Phoenix to its first-ever NCAA Division I national ranking in 2006 and winning Elon's first Division I league title in any sport in 2008. 

Additionally, the men's soccer program has produced 27 All-Southern Conference performers, a conference player of the year and two league freshmen of the year in Powell's five seasons.
Although accolades are nice, Powell's players note his passion spreads far beyond the confines of Rudd Field.

"He cares about all the players, and it's not just about him getting the wins," Irwin said. "He wants to make us better people."

Senior midfielder Brad Franks added, "You can't help but work hard for him."

Whether it's poking fun at his apparent fashion faux-pas — "We like to give him a hard time. He doesn't have any sense of style," Franks said — or describing his sideline antics at an away game at College of Charleston — "He made this ridiculous noise and a robot motion up and down the sideline to show his frustration," Irwin said — one can see how the men's soccer team feeds off of Powell's zealous spirit and love of the game.

Powell's teams focus on the small things, senior defender Ben Lunka said.  By focusing on breaking the opposition down by playing good team soccer, passing, communicating and moving to break teams down and score goals, the Phoenix can look forward to another campaign with Powell leading his team through the season.

"With Powell, it's a given that guys are going to be working hard for him, all while having a good time," Franks said.  "Taking Coach Powell's words, 'We just have to take it one game at a time.'"