|Alma Mater:||Akron, 1995|
Derek Leader is entering his third season at the helm of the Georgia State women’s soccer program as the Panthers prepare for their second season in the Sun Belt Conference.
Last season marked GSU’s first in the Sun Belt and the Panthers finished with a 6-10-1 record overall and a 4-4 mark in conference play. Leader did not shy away from difficult competition as the 2013 schedule featured two Southeastern Conference foes and two teams that reached the NCAA tournament. Georgia State finished the regular season with three conference wins in four games, including a 1-0 road win over Sun Belt regular-season champions Western Kentucky.
Leader and his staff will push the student-athletes to improve upon their sixth-place finish in the Sun Belt as Georgia State returns nine starters, including first-team all-conference forward Ashley Nagy. She is the first Panther to be named to the first team since 2009.
In his first season, Georgia State finished 4-11-2 and 1-8-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The 2012 campaign featured 10 matches decided by one goal, four overtime contests, including three that went into double-overtime. The Panthers faced two SEC foes and went 3-0 against in-state rivals Kennesaw State, Mercer and Georgia Southern.
Prior to taking over in Atlanta, he served as the associate head coach at SMU. He was elevated to associate head coach position before the 2010 season and spent a total of four seasons at SMU. While there he helped head coach Brent Erwin build a winning program that saw the Mustangs qualified for the Conference USA Tournament in each of his four seasons and improved to double-digit win totals the last two years.
Leader is also a highly successful coach with the Olympic Development Program. Since 2012 he has served as the Assistant Director for Region III ODP. From 1997-2012, he served as the under 16 head coach for Region III. In addition, he works on the US Soccer Staff for the National Training Centers and with Concorde Fire Soccer Club. He has served as a staff coach with the Dallas Texans soccer club, the No. 1-ranked soccer club in the nation, and as the head coach for the North Texas state teams. He was also a national staff instructor for coaching courses for the United States Soccer Federation.
Before his stint at SMU, Leader spent 12 years (1996-2008) as women's soccer head coach and assistant director of the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He was inducted into the IMG Soccer Academy Hall of Fame as a coach and builder in 2010. During his time in Bradenton, he also coached local semi-pro teams, serving as an assistant coach for the Bradenton Academics PDL men's team from 2001-04 and as head coach for the Bradenton Athletics W-League women's team from 2004-08.
Leader began his coaching career in Ohio, where he was the assistant coach for the men's and women's programs at Ashland University in 1995-96. He also served as head coach for the Ohio-North ODP team, as a clinician with the state staff in Ohio and as head coach with the Emerald Soccer Club in Cleveland.
A 1995 graduate of Akron, Leader is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and the United States Soccer Coaches Organization, and holds several coaching licenses, including a United States Soccer Federation National "A" License, an NSCAA Premier License and an International Coaching Diploma from the Victoria Coaching Institute in British Columbia, Canada.
Leader’s teachings encompass the most modern methods in strength, agility, and mental training along with the technical and tactical aspects necessary to play the game. He has extensive recruiting ties in the South and the Atlanta area.
Leader is a native of Stow, Ohio, and his wife, Kim, hails from Millen, Ga. The couple has a 6 year old daughter named Jacqueline.