Local woman’s successful coaching career on the rise
by Jack Deming
Aug 15, 2013 | 3484 views | 0 0 comments | 242 242 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cory Holton
Cory Holton
SOUTH BEND, IN- One of the toughest challenges for a coach at any level of any sport is taking a struggling team, a perennial loser, and turning it into a success story. As a collegiate women’s soccer coach, Wilmington native Cory Holton has turned this into her area of expertise. After four years as a head coach, Holton is returning to an assistant position, joining Randy Waldrum’s staff coaching the Notre Dame Fighting Irish women’s soccer team, and continuing her rapid ascent into the ranks of collegiate coaching.

Holton was a three-star athlete at Wilmington High School, playing soccer, basketball, and softball. During her time as a Wilmington Wildcat, Holton was part of two state champion soccer teams, as well as a state champion basketball team. Holton went on to play soccer at Elmira College, where she graduated in 2005 with a degree in psychology.

Holton says her academics were not focused on the prospect of coaching, three knee surgeries would keep her on the sidelines where she got to experience leadership from another angle. “I’m a natural leader, so I had to find a way to lead while not actually being on the field.”

While on Elmira’s soccer team, Holton worked in the office of her coach, Franco Bari, who would become her mentor. Following an internship with the Eastern College Athletic Conference, Bari would recruit her for her first coaching opportunity as an assistant at Greensboro College in Greensboro, NC.

After three years coaching and working on recruitment under Bari, and Greensboro’s next coach Ian Spooner, Holton was hired as the first full-time head coach for Concordia University in Austin, TX. “No one’s ready to become a head coach,” said Holton. “Concordia was a great training ground because their program had had no success and could only go up.”

Concordia had won only 19 games in their nine-year history, but with Holton at the helm, the Tornadoes went 29-21-6 in three years. In 2011, her final year at Concordia, Holton was named American Southwest Conference Coach of the Year.

Holton took on a new challenge for the 2012 campaign, returning to the Northeast to work on another struggling program, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Engineers. Holton was once again the first full-time head coach in a program’s history, and began to rebuild and improve their record, as well as statistics.

“I think success for me was a product of working hard to get the right athletes at these schools, and instilling accountability and structure for the players that were already there,” said Holton. “Part of it is mental, you have to get them to buy into the mission and a situation where they believe in what we’re trying to teach them.”

After only one year as the Engineers’ coach, Holton received a call from Waldrum, asking her to come to South Bend and help him coach the Fighting Irish.

Holton first connected with Waldrum in Germany while working on a National Soccer Coaches Association of America coaching course for the women’s 2011 World Cup. “This wasn’t even something I was searching for, and it happened so quickly,” said Holton. “I was looking forward to the WPI season but this was such a great opportunity and it was something not to be passed up.”

Holton will also be working in recruiting services as part of her new job. “Working at Notre Dame, the potential for learning and development is unbelievable,” said Holton.
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