Skyhawk Soccer | Phil McNamara - Head Coach
The University of Tennessee at Martin soccer program has grown into one of the top programs in Ohio Valley Conference history behind the work of head coach Phil McNamara, who enters his seventh season at the helm after being named UT Martin’s fourth head coach on March 23, 2010.
During his tenure at UT Martin, McNamara has continued to build an impressive résumé. Having strung together four consecutive OVC title - including two regular season and tournament championships - McNamara has guided players to 14 All-OVC first team honors, five earning second team honors and 13 on the All-Newcomer teams. McNamara helped Skyhawks earn their first OVC Player of the Year in 2014 when Rianna Jarrett brought home the award. In his second season, McNamara helped Melissa Govea earn UT Martin’s first OVC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012.
After a slow start to the season, McNamara’s squad rallied to claim a tie for third place in the league standings and ultimately a home contest in the first round of the OVC Soccer Championship in 2015. With an overall record of 7-11-1 and a league mark of 5-4-1, the Skyhawks remained as one of the OVC’s most consistent soccer programs. Three Skyhawks earned All-OVC honors with Maggie Burkett and Rebecca Starnes earning first team nods while Saphyra Coombs-James earned second team honors. The freshman duo of Starnes and Burkett were also joined on the All-Newcomer squad by Lisa Schmieder.
In 2014 McNamara saw the Skyhawks open the season with a school-record four victories on their way to a fourth-straight season with double-digit victories. Guiding the team to a 12-6-2 record including a 6-3-1 conference slate, the Skyhawks were offensively gifted by leading the OVC in shots taken. The season saw newcomer Rianna Jarrett set a school-record with 17 goals on her way to the program’s first OVC Player of the Year honor. In the conference tournament, UT Martin fell in a shootout to Jacksonville State.
McNamara has continued to build an impressive résumé throughout his time at UT Martin as he led the Skyhawks to a piece of conference history. The Skyhawks picked up their fourth consecutive OVC title, including two regular season and tournament championships, after rattling off an 8-2 record in conference play to win their second consecutive season crown. The Skyhawks became the first team in conference history to pull off such a streak.
The Skyhawks saw five players take home six OVC awards, highlighted by three All-OVC first team selections for Mariah Klenke, Aoife Lennon and Hannah Fessenden while Alyssa Curtis earned second team honors. Lennon was joined by classmate Ellie Myrick as All-Newcomer selections. Three players took home All-Tournament honors as Lennon and Fessenden both joined Lucy Pater. As a whole, six Skyhawks took home either All-OVC or All-OVC Tournament accolades in 2013.
After McNamara took the Skyhawks to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, he posted arguably the best season in school history in 2012. UT Martin captured its first outright Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship on its way to a new program record for single-season winning percentage (.659, 13-6-3). In the NCAA Tournament, the Skyhawks pushed Southeastern Conference power Kentucky to the limit before a narrow 1-0 loss in overtime.
For his efforts, McNamara garnered 2012 OVC Coach of the Year honors. He also presided over five players who were All-OVC performers, including Saphyra Coombs-James - the program's first-ever OVC Freshman of the Year. All in all, eight of McNamara's players earned All-OVC or All-OVC Tournament accolades in 2012.
McNamara’s second season at UT Martin was a banner year, as the Skyhawks captured their first-ever OVC Tournament championship in 2011. UT Martin won a program-record six straight games from Oct. 21 through Nov. 6 on its way to a school record for victories (14) before falling to then-undefeated Memphis in its first NCAA Tournament match in school history. The Skyhawks boasted four players on the All-OVC team, including Melissa Govea (the league’s Defensive Player of the Year) and Brooke Robertson (the fourth player in program history to achieve All-OVC first team status in two different seasons).
In his debut season as Skyhawk skipper, McNamara guided UT Martin to an 8-8-2 record and 3-4-1 OVC slate. The Skyhawks began to click midway through the schedule, winning seven of nine games during one stretch. UT Martin also continued its home dominance under McNamara, putting together a five-match win streak and going unbeaten for a 58-day span, falling only in the home opener and finale in 2010. The stingy Skyhawk defense also excelled under McNamara, as the team tied an all-time single-season record with eight shutouts.
McNamara came to UT Martin from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., where he led the Eagles to the NCAA Division II championship tournament in each of his last seven years. His teams advanced to the NCAA Final Four in back-to-back years in 2004-05 and won five regular season league titles and four South Atlantic Conference tournaments. During his eight-year tenure at Carson-Newman, he picked up the South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year honor four times.
At Carson-Newman, McNamara’s teams were consistently ranked, as his players garnered several top honors throughout his tenure. All in all, he coached 43 all-conference players, 22 all-region players, four All-SAC Tournament members, four All-SAC tournament MVP’s, four All-Americans (including the first in Carson Newman history), four All-NCAA Tournament team players, three SAC Players of the Year and two SAC Freshmen of the Year. In addition to coaching the program’s first-ever national All-American, he also guided the Eagles to the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance and NCAA Tournament victories. Four players also earned national or regional academic All-American awards under his watch.
McNamara’s 2009 Carson-Newman team was the best in school history, as they set a single-season record for most wins (20). They finished ranked seventh in the nation after winning their third NCAA Southeast Regional title under his guidance.
McNamara won 11 games or more every year for the past eight years at Carson-Newman, a tremendous feat considering the Eagles had never won more than 11 games in any one season in its first 11 years of playing soccer prior to McNamara’s hiring.
Before Carson-Newman, McNamara served two seasons at Virginia Intermont in Bristol, Va.. He posted a 17-12 record and he led the team to both conference and regional championships. He was named conference and regional coach of the year. He spent the 2001 season as head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs. The men were ranked 18th in the nation.
McNamara also served as an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s programs at his alma mater, King College in Bristol, Tenn.
McNamara has three European coaching licenses and has served as a youth coach for the Irish Football Association (IFA) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. As a player, he was a YTS trainee with Ashton Villa FC in England for two years, and spent one season with the Carrickfergus Rangers FC in the Irish First Division. He was a member of the Cliftonville FC in the Irish Premier League for four years before ending his playing career in the United States, spending one season playing indoor soccer with the Huntsville Fire of the Premier League and two years with the Roanoke Wraft of the PDL D-2 League.
McNamara is married to the former Jacqueline Logue of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and has two children, Halina and Anthony.