Former Elon men's soccer assistant coach Chris Little was announced as the team's new head coach on April 29, marking his return to the Phoenix squad as the team prepares to enter the CAA.
Elon University Director of Athletics Dave Blank announced Chris Little as the new Phoenix head men’s soccer coach on Tuesday, April 29. Little, an assistant coach with the Elon program from 2010-2012, replaces Darren Powell, who resigned earlier this month to take a position with the Orlando City Soccer Club of the MLS.
“Chris Little has experienced tremendous success at every level of his soccer coaching career and we are thrilled to welcome him back to Elon University,” Blank said. “Chris has played an instrumental role in the success of our men’s soccer program and has seen firsthand what it takes to win at Elon. Chris has the experience needed to keep our men’s soccer program competing at a high level both academically and athletically. We are excited about his enthusiasm and we are confident he is the right coach to guide our program as we transition into the Colonial Athletic Association next season.”
Little has spent the last year as the Academy Director for the NC Fusion and head coach of the Carolina Dynamo team that competes in the Professional Development League.
“I am extremely excited to come back to Elon University, and honored to accept the position as the new head men’s soccer coach of the Phoenix,” Little said. “I would like to thank Director of Athletics Dave Blank, President Lambert, Dr. Francis as well as the rest of the search committee for the opportunity to lead the program and build upon the excellent work that has been done here by Darren Powell.”
During his time at Elon, Little helped the Phoenix to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in 2011 and 2012 after the team won back-to-back Southern Conference Tournament championships. The Phoenix also captured the league’s regular season title in 2012, finishing with a 15-5-2 mark. Elon’s 2012 team also captured a No. 16 national ranking that season, the highest in program history. Little also mentored former Phoenix forward Chris Thomas, who led the nation in goals and points and was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy.
In 2012, Little was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s Assistant Coach of the Year for the South Region and was a candidate for the Glenn “Mooch” Myernick National Assistant Coach of the Year Award. Little helped numerous Elon student-athletes join the professional soccer ranks during his tenure, including Thomas, Clint Irwin, Austen King, Nick Millington, Gabe Latigue and Daniel Lovitz.
Little earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UNC Pembroke in 2000, where he was a standout men’s soccer player. Little ranks fifth in UNCP history in career goals (29) and second in career assists (23), while also leading the Braves to their first-ever Peach Belt Conference Tournament final. Little played and started in 58 games for the Braves and notched eight game-winning goals. He led UNCP to its first national ranking in 1998, and after serving as team captain for two years was named UNCP Most Outstanding Player in his final season. Little earned a master’s degree in physical education from UNCP in 2002 and was inducted into the UNCP Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
Following his collegiate career at UNCP, Little served as the assistant coach for his alma mater for two seasons, helping the team improve from a 2-16-0 record in 2000 to a 10-7-1 mark in 2001. Little assisted with all aspects of the program, including coaching and managing players, recruiting, scheduling and academic development of student-athletes.
Following the success at UNCP, Little spent three years as the head coach of Cumberland College (now University of the Cumberlands) in Williamsburg, Ky. Little led the Patriots to 31 wins and a No. 20 ranking in the final 2004 NAIA national poll, as his squad posted the highest tournament finish in school history with a runner-up finish in NAIA Region XI.
In 2005, Little returned to North Carolina to head up the Olympic Development Program and serve as the North Carolina State Director of Coaching and Player Development for the NC Youth Soccer Association. He guided the state’s ODP program to its first two national titles, leading the 1988 State Team to a shared national title at the 2006 ODP National Tournament and the 1989 State Team to a 2007 championship.
Prior to coming to Elon as an assistant coach in 2010, Little was the Director of Coaching for the Greensboro Youth Soccer Association. While there, he managed over 30 teams and 25 coaches, while leading the U16 US Academy to the US Soccer National Championships in 2009. He was instrumental in developing the vision, direction and operation of the association, creating a player development model, technical curriculum and training guide. Part of his role involved directing the US Soccer Development Academy Program as well as the U15-U18 Boys Program.
A native of Swindon, England, Little and his wife, Kara-Lyn, a former UNCP volleyball player, have two children, Lennon and Ewan, and currently reside in Greensboro, N.C.
What Others Are Saying About Chris Little
Jeremy Gunn, Head Men’s Soccer Coach at Stanford: “Chris is a tremendous coach and has proven to be successful everywhere he’s coached both as a head coach and as an assistant. There isn’t a better man for the job at Elon. Chris has a great soccer brain and has always had a wonderful rapport with his players and I’m sure he’ll be able to get the best out of that group. It’s an exciting new step for Chris and I have no doubt that he’s ready to continue to move the Elon program forward.”
Doug Hess, Head Men’s Soccer Coach at Drexel: “Chris is a guy of high integrity and character and I think very highly of him as both a soccer coach and a person. From a soccer standpoint, Chris has a great mind tactically and thinks a lot about the game. He’s constantly assessing the game and making himself better every day and there’s a lot of value in that. Elon is getting a coach who is constantly seeking to become better which is a top quality in a leader. Chris never rests on who he is and what he already knows. Chris is always looking to advance himself, which in turn, will advance his team.”
Aidan Heaney, Head Men’s Soccer Coach at UNC Wilmington: “Congratulations to Elon on a great hire. Chris is one of the best bright, young coaches and I know he’s going to do a fantastic job at Elon. Chris is very highly regarded in the soccer community and he’ll do an exceptional job following in the footsteps of the great Darren Powell.”
The Chris Little File
Born: January 20, 1978
Hometown: Swindon, England
UNC Pembroke 2000 (Bachelor’s degree in history)
UNC Pembroke 2002 (Master’s degree in physical education)
Family: Wife, Kara; Children, Lennon and Ewan
Little’s Collegiate Head Coaching Record: 31-20-5
Chris Little’s Coaching Experience
Year Position School
2000 Assistant Coach UNC Pembroke
2001 Assistant Coach UNC Pembroke
2002 Head Coach Cumberland College
2003 Head Coach Cumberland College
2004 Head Coach Cumberland College
2005 Dir. of Coaching/Player Development NC Youth Soccer Association
2006 Dir. of Coaching/Player Development NC Youth Soccer Association
2007 Dir. of Coaching/Player Development NC Youth Soccer Association
2008 Dir. of Coaching/Player Development NC Youth Soccer Association
2009 Dir. of Coaching/Player Development NC Youth Soccer Association
2010 Assistant Coach Elon University
2011 Assistant Coach Elon University
2012 Assistant Coach Elon University
2013 Technical Director – U.S. Development Academy NC Fusion/Carolina Dynamo