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Afenegus leaves Clark to build team at S. Oregon

Starting team from scratch appeals to new head coach

By , Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published: February 24, 2015, 12:00am

The opportunity to build a program from scratch was too enticing for Biniam Afenegus to pass up.

So after guiding the Clark College men’s soccer team for eight seasons, Afenegus has accepted the challenge of being the first men’s soccer coach at Southern Oregon University.

“What really tipped the scale is the opportunity to start a program from scratch,” Afenegus said. “It is a big honor getting to build a program from the start.”

Southern Oregon, located in Ashland, is adding men’s soccer in the fall to its list of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics sports. The Raiders compete in the Cascade Collegiate Conference.

Afenegus, 38, is in his 14th year teaching health and physical education at McLaughlin Middle School in Vancouver and will finish this school year before relocating with his family to Ashland.

Afenegus said he has not yet hired any assistant coaches.

At Clark, Afenegus had a record of 123 wins, 27 losses and 16 ties. In his first season as coach, the Penguins won the 2007 NWAC championship.

His teams won the South Region title five times and lost the NWAC title match in 2013.

Clark College athletic director Ann Walker announced on the Clark website that the search for a new men’s soccer coach is under way.

Afenegus said he enjoyed coaching at Clark, and appreciated the support of the school’s administration throughout his tenure. He said he is most proud of the relationships he built with student-athletes and the Clark community while coaching the program.

The chance to mentor young players over four years instead of two years at Clark is another attractive aspect of his new job, Afenegus said.

Another positive is that it will be his only job after years of splitting time between his teaching job and a variety of coaching commitments.

Afenegus has been a significant contributor to soccer in Southwest Washington. Prior to taking over at Clark, he coached varsity boys and girls soccer at Fort Vancouver High School. He has also coached youth soccer and last summer was the first coach for the Vancouver Victory FC in the first season for that amateur men’s soccer team. He resigned that post last month, citing the need to have more time with his wife Irene and their three children.

Building a roster for the 2015 college season will be a challenge. Many current high school seniors have already made their college commitments. But Afenegus said he is confident that he can put together a competitive team.

“I’m attacking (recruiting) by using the network of friends I have in coaching,” Afenegus said.

Afenegus played in the Cascade Conference at Portland’s Concordia University. Concordia, which has dominated CCC soccer, is moving to NCAA Division II next year.

The conference will have seven new members for men’s soccer in 2015, with Eastern Oregon joining Southern Oregon as a first-year program.

“We expect to competitive this year,” he said. “Our goal is we want to be one of the premier teams in the Cascade Conference in two or three years.”

Southern Oregon has enjoyed success in other sports, including the 2014 NAIA football national championship with Skyview grad Austin Dodge at quarterback.

“One of the things that enticed me to Southern Oregon is they just have a tradition of winning,” Afenegus said.