Leonard Griffin, USF Men's Soccer and USSF A Licensed Coach, Joins SFEA as Director of Coaching for Boys
SAN FRANCISCO, CA. APRIL 25, 2019--The San Francisco Elite Academy announced today that Leonard Griffin, recently named Men's Head Soccer Coach at the University of San Francisco, has joined SFEA as the Director of Coaching for Boys. Griffin will lead the Academy's boys program and its coaching staff as well as contribute his significant technical and college pathway expertise to benefit all the club's players. Coach Griffin, who holds a USSF ‘A’ license, also joins a staff of 15 A and B licensed coaches, affording SFEA players and teams a level of technical coaching expertise and experience entirely unmatched in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"The addition of Leonard to our coaching staff shows our commitment to providing the very best player development environment," said Joe Dugan, President of the San Francisco Elite Academy. "Our goal has been and remains producing the best outcomes for our players, families, coaches & teams. Leonard has been successful everywhere he’s been. We’re looking forward to having lots of success with Leonard now as part of SFEA."
Griffin arrives in San Francisco from the University of Portland where he served three years as an assistant coach for the men's soccer program. In his first season as the Pilots' assistant coach, Griffin helped guide the team to a 2016 West Coast Conference Championship. He coached three Far West Region Team players and MLS players: Benji Michel (Orlando City), Paul Christensen (Atlanta United), Kris Reaves (FC Dallas) and Rey Ortiz (1st Team).Prior to joining the Portland staff, he spent two years at UCLA where the Bruins advanced to the NCAA College Cup finals in 2014. Griffin coached nine all-Pac-12 players, including 2014 MAC Hermann Trophy winner Leo Stoltz and 2015 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Jose Hernandez.
Griffin spent a season as an assistant coach at California in 2013, guiding Cal to a NCAA Quarterfinals appearance. At the time, the Golden Bears received the No. 4 overall ranking in the NCAA, which was the highest ranking in school history.
Prior to Cal, Griffin spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Saint Mary's. There, he led the Gaels to the NCAA Elite Eight and a WCC Championship in 2011.
Griffin attended UCLA from 2000-03. The 2003 All-American honoree led the Bruins to an NCAA title in 2002. Following his college career, Griffin spent six seasons with the Chicago Fire (2004-06), the Columbus Crew (2007-08), and the Los Angeles Galaxy (2006) while also playing professionally for the Portland Timbers (2007-08).
About the San Francisco Elite Academy (SFEA)
The San Francisco Elite Academy (SFEA) is the top college placement youth soccer program in San Francisco, in just four years we have over 30 former players now competing in college soccer. We are developing the next generation of players to the highest standards, ensuring they receive the necessary training and support to successfully represent San Francisco at the highest level of play, our community, and our country.
Max Edelstein plays for the SFEA 2000 & 2001 Boys NPL team and recently committed to Colgate University where he will play Division I college soccer. Everyone at the San Francisco Elite Academy is proud of his accomplishments on and off the field, and we were delighted that he took the time for our brief pathway to college interview.
Please be on the lookout for additional conversations with the many players at SFEA who are moving on to college-level play next year.
When did you first begin playing soccer and when did you know it was something you would want to do in college?
I have played soccer for as long as I can remember and have always been interested in continuing to play at the highest level possible. I really became serious about putting my efforts into pursuing college soccer around my sophomore year, but have always had it in the back of my mind as a goal I wanted to achieve.
How has the San Francisco Elite Academy shaped you into the player and student athlete you are today?
I have played for San Francisco Elite Academy since the summer of my sophomore year, and, in part, I made the switch to the club because it allowed me to reduce my commute times to and from practice so that I could devote more time to my academic studies. I think the atmosphere surrounding San Francisco Elite Academy has always included other players who were as motivated as myself. This allows us to push each other to excel. In addition, I was able to find synergy between SFEA with my high school team at University High School, which allowed me to compete in both club and high school play and eventually find success in both arenas.
Choosing a college is daunting and finding one to also play soccer can make it even more so. Please share a few thoughts on your college-selection/recruiting process and how you came to the conclusion your school was right for you?
One key piece of advice I held onto was that whatever school I was going to attend I would still want to be there even if I was not playing soccer. Personally, I was looking for a school that combined rigorous academics with a successful soccer program, and in the end I found that Colgate was a place that fit all of these categories. After visiting, I was really able to picture myself as part of the community there.
When did you begin working on your college recruiting and what did you do first?
I began working on my college recruiting process in my sophomore year by having discussions with my high school and SFEA coach. With their help, I made a preliminary list of institutions that I was interested in. I also began attending some of the different ID camps around the Bay Area as a way of exposing myself to the process in preparation for other ID camps around the country that I would attend in the summer. In addition, I compiled a highlight video to send college coaches before different showcases to attract attention to my games. I also emailed different coaches and invited them to my games, and I was able to start building connections with different schools.
What key words of advice would you give fellow SFEA players who are just beginning the college recruiting (or finding a college soccer play opportunity) process?
I think the key to the college recruitment process is that it is a player-driven endeavor. By putting together your own highlight video, reaching out to coaches, and having discussions with people who have knowledge of the process, you can gain a lot of useful information on the best way to pursue the process. If you are active in building connections with different coaches and schools, and all the while continue to improve as a player, college soccer is an achievable goal.
Please share what you are most excited about when it comes to attending your college--from student life to academics/areas of study as well as college play?
I am extremely excited to engage with a whole new community across the country and dive far deeper into my areas of academic interest. I am also perhaps most excited to compete at the collegiate level because it gives me a chance to continue to push myself as a player and play at an even higher level than before.
Is there anyone you would like to specifically thank for helping you on your journey from youth player to elite prospect to college-level soccer?
I would like to thank all the wonderful coaches that have helped me become a collegiate-level player, and especially those who I worked with more recently over the past three years--Mauricio de Leon, Po Bronson, Deejae Johnson, and Chris Flanagan. In addition, I want to thank all my teammates who have pushed me to become the player I am today. Special shoutout to Luke Bronson and Henry Gorelik who I have played with almost everyday for three straight years. And of course, my family who have always been the most supportive of all my soccer endeavors and have spent countless hours driving, standing through the hot, cold, and rain, and always willing to remind me to have fun.
On Saturday, a large number of SFEA players--boys and girls--will be playing for their respective high schools in sectional finals. In fact, over 30 San Francisco players from SFEA's senior boys and girls teams will be playing tomorrow to bring their high school championship glory.
The San Francisco Elite Academy wishes all of our players still playing high school and their respective teams the best of luck as they wrap up their seasons. Many will be going on to next week's Norther California Regional Championship and we will keep you posted.
On the boys side, University High School 17-5-2 (featuring 7 SFEA boys players) will be playing Marin Academy 14-4-3 (with 2 SFEA boys) for the North Coast Section, Division IV title at 2pm Saturday at Paul Goode Field in the Presidio. University High School players include Luke Bronson, Henry Gorelik, Max Edelstein, Zeke Ume-Ukeje, Owen Flanagan, Nic Galleno, and Rocky Versace. Marin Academy features SFEA players Eli Swagel and Owen Swagel.
University High School and Marin Academy will be playing for the fourth time this winter, and University will be trying to back up its league season and league tournament championships while Marin Academy looks to avenge a heartbreaking loss on penalties in the league tournament final just two weeks ago.
Mission High School, at 13-1-3 will be playing for the San Francisco Section title against Washington High School 8-7-3 at 11am at Boxer Stadium. Mission features Mak Lau and Mike Larson while Washington has Michael Herrera and team captain Diego Vazquez-Diaz. The teams split their encounters this season and the section final should be a good one.
Additionally, Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep 12-7-3 (with 6 SFEA players) will be playing Wilcox in Santa Clara for the Central Coast Sectional, Division III title. Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep is coming off an impressive 2-0 win over number one seeded Pioneer in the section semi final. SFEA players include Alec Perliss, Eli Streicker-Hirt, Ellis Brenneman, Alex Bonville, Connor Coyle, and Kian Jones.
On the girls side, Lowell makes another late season run at championship glory by playing in the San Francisco Section final tomorrow versus Mission at 1.30pm at Boxer Stadium. The Lowell girls are 13-2-1 and feature a host of SFEA players--including Hannah McCord, Mariko Hokamura, Kalea Papandrew, Shannon Li, Camila Bodden, Sarah Ginsburg, Simone Wesley, Natalia Potente. On the 8-2-1 Mission side of the championship tilt is SFEA player Raquel Lau.
In addition, SFEA players Lucinda Anderson, Grace Grassi and Sydney Ghobadian represent a Marin Academy girls team looking to put yet another feather in their cap. Sitting on a stellar 19-1-1 record, having won league and league tournament titles, Marin Academy will be playing Saturday against Cardinal Newman, the team that handed MA their only loss of the season in what was the very first game of the season. The final will be held at Santa Rosa High School at 7pm.
Since its inception, the San Francisco Elite Academy’s goal has been to raise the bar for San Francisco soccer and celebrate the success of the city’s most talented and dedicated soccer athletes. We are proud to see that goal realized, in part, through the year on year success of not only our club teams but those high school programs featuring our talented players as well. Again, best of luck to these players and their teams.
Tomorrow, Thursday February 7th, NorCal will be conducting the playoff draw for the finals of the 2018-2019 State Cup for U14-U19 Boys and Girls. The San Francisco Elite Academy has all of its 10 age-group teams (across genders) still in the competition, and eight of those teams (U19B, U17B, U16B, U19G, U17G, U16G, U15G, and U14G) will be playing in the final 32, the State Division, the highest division of State Cup play. Our U15B and U14B teams are in the Premier division or second group of 32 teams.
Congratulations to all of our teams on pushing into the elite bracket and good luck in the matches ahead!
The draw can be followed live on NorCal's Youtube page. And you cam read more about the draw on the NorCal website.
US Club Soccer, the sanctioning body for NorCal soccer and top leagues all over the country, has selected the San Francisco Elite Academy as one of just 46 clubs nationwide (and the first in San Francisco) to earn the designation of being a Players First-licensed club.
US Club reviewed clubs nationwide and selected those that met or exceeded rigorous Players First standards related to Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety.
"We're really appreciative of this recognition from US Club," said Joe Dugan, President of the San Francisco Elite Academy. "Our club's core pillars align perfectly with the Player First philosophy. We've always been the San Francisco club trying to raise the bar for a competitive youth soccer experience. We understand that a club isn't only about wins and losses, but it's about creating a holistic environment for growth that benefits young people for the entire lives.
Visit our Players First page on the website for more details or read about Players First from US Club here.
The SF Elite Academy
Our mission is to provide an elite level program for soccer players in San Francisco.