Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

March 26, 2014

Heinz leaving VSU, changing careers

An opportunity to work with family was too good for Melissa Heinz to pass up.

As a result, Valdosta State will be looking for a new women’s soccer coach. Heinz, who announced the decision Tuesday, was the Blazers’ coach since the program began in 2011 and spent 19 years coaching collegiately.

“This is a leap of faith for me, but I have spent much time praying about this decision, and I have peace about it,” said Heinz, who is leaving to work with her brother, who is currently self-employed near Atlanta, in the school’s release. “My brother’s two-year business is growing, and I will be taking over the sales and account management duties of the business.”

The VSU soccer program certainly grew under Heinz’s guidance the past three seasons as the Blazers went a combined 33-16-7, made two NCAA tournament appearances and played for one Gulf South Conference championship.

Heinz was named the conference Coach of the Year in 2011 and has produced 10 All-GSC performers and had 27 players earn all-academic honors.

That success in all areas has left VSU athletic director Herb Reinhard pleased with his first women’s soccer coach, but also saddened at the prospect of now having to replace her.

“Coach Heinz certainly proved to be the perfect person to start our program and serve as our first coach,” Reinhard said in the release. “The success that we have had in our first three years has been, quite simply, unbelievable. Mel has provided us with a tremendous foundation that we will work to build on.

“We are saddened that Mel will no longer be a part of our team. However, I understand and respect her decision to change her career path. She has done a wonderful job while at Valdosta State, and we wish her well.”

Likewise, Heinz said she will miss her players, the VSU administration and the community as a whole.

“I feel that I’ve been able to be a good coach because of my players,” she said, adding that Reinhard sold her on the job and working for him was a pleasure. “I give a lot of credit to those ladies, because they challenged me and made me want to work hard for them. No matter who is coaching here in the future, the players will be the key factor moving forward. I am confident that the student-athletes will continue moving this program to new heights.

“Many times a community will jump on board with a new program, but support will degrade over time. That didn't happen here. This community has helped VSU soccer grow, and that has been exciting to be a part of.”

Valdosta State will begin a national search for in the coming weeks.

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