Making the decision to leave one of the more successful soccer programs in the state of Alabama certainly wasn’t easy for Dan DeMasters. Making the decision to come to Thompson High School to lead the girls soccer program, however, turned out to be relatively simple.
“I think for me and my wife, it checks a lot of boxes for all of the things out of the soccer world,” said DeMasters, who along with his wife, Leslie, lives in Alabaster. “The facilities, the location, the finances. It was second to none. I never thought there would be an opportunity, like this, to take.”
DeMasters, who also will serve as the Director of Soccer for Alabaster City Schools,
leaves Oak Mountain High after leading the boys’ soccer program to three Class 7A state championships and four state championship match appearances in the past five seasons. In 2016, the Eagles finished with a 28-0-2 record and a No. 1 national ranking by the NSCAA and Top Drawer soccer. He was selected the AHSAA Coach of the Year in 2016.
“Another thing is kind of the challenge of a new team,” added DeMasters, who was 104-15-20 while at Oak Mountain. “I certainly will miss the culture that I continued to build at Oak Mountain. I’ve been very fortunate to have really good talent. I think mixed with the coaching and the culture, it showed with the championships. I hope to bring that here.”
Success has followed the Pennsylvania native throughout his soccer career – both as a player and a coach. The Lancaster, Pa. native was a three-time high school All-American, the 2003 Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year and an all-region and all-conference player at Villanova University. He also represented the United States on the USYSA Region 1 Olympic development team throughout several countries in Europe, including Spain, France, Austria and Germany, playing against renowned youth clubs Athletico Madrid, FC Barcelona, FC Porto, Ajax, Bayern Munich, and the Brazil, France and Austrian youth national teams.
His coaching career includes experience at collegiate, club, high school, clinic, and camp levels. He also served as the co-director for Star Soccer Academy, the longest running youth camp in the United States.
Obviously, the success showed up again during his time at Oak Mountain.
“I never thought, in a million years, that I would win three state championships in five years,” DeMasters said. “I don’t think anyone thinks that will ever happen, but it did. I would like to bring the culture to the girls’ team and the soccer program at Thompson. I think it has a ton of resources, I think it has great leadership. After I met with Coach Pitts, Dr. Hester and Dr. Vickers, I saw their vision, saw what they wanted to do, saw their excitement and just their support. The ceiling is very high at Thompson and I hope to get there as fast as I can.”
His plan is not any different than when he first arrived in Alabama to be the Oak Mountain coach.
“I look at it as a new challenge, I’m going to go at it with the same approach,” DeMasters said. “I want to get to know the girls. I want to create a good culture with them and create an identity. I want something where every year the younger girls are excited to come up and eventually make the varsity team. That’s sort of my philosophy. I have to understand what the girls are thinking, what they want to do and what their goals are. Putting all of that stuff together and then coming up with a game plan, is sort of what I try to do as a coach.”